AFRICA • TECHNOLOGY • EDUCATION & CONSULTING
APRIL 1, 2020
Today's era is defined by emerging innovative technologies. We are living in a time during which digital is merging with the physical and robots are capable of executing surgeries on human brains. These times require completely revolutionary approaches to schooling and to education - approaches that start with children as young as 2 and 3. So, how do we prepare today's children for the "technology renaissance" we are witnessing? How do we prepare them for the global challenges? How can we increase the quality of education in developing countries that are experiencing significant social and economic transformations?
We had a chance to talk with Sabina Vigani, Country Director at TRECC, and Catherine Seya, Early Childhood Technical Lead at TRECC, about the future of education in Africa and worldwide to find out some insights on the education development in Africa.
How do you envision the future of school education in Africa?
C.S. Whether the gap between Africa’s social and economic situation and that of the West or other emerging regions narrows depends largely on the performance and relevance of its schooling system in the years to come. First, in terms of service delivery, African nations will have to ensure that access to quality education drastically improves given the rapid population increase the continent is witnessing. It is important to note that quality education is just as important as access.
Access without quality undermines investments in the sector and yields limited gains. Ivory Coast, and the continent more broadly, has witnessed an increase of the school attendance rates over the last two decades, but the massification of students has come with new challenges, such as overcrowded classrooms, insufficient manuals, demotivated teachers, to name just a few. As a result, more children attend school, but they are not learning. To give you an idea, the 2019 national evaluation shows that barely 19% of children in the third grade have reached a sufficient level of mastery in reading. We need to make sure that teaching is effective and that children learn.
Secondly, and very importantly, the content taught in schools must be relevant to the local economies, but should also equip youth with relevant skills and knowledge allowing them to embrace global trends, such as the rapid growth of technologies, adapt in a rapidly changing world and address global issues like healthcare, energy, and development challenges.
Quality education is strongly linked to job creation and employment rates, and it will significantly determine how the continent performs in the global economy 10, 20, and 50 years from now.
How will the learning experience transform, in your opinion, given the rapid growth of technologies?
S.V. The current COVID-19 crisis provides a vivid example of how technology has already transformed the learning experience. In many European countries, homeschooling has replaced the physical classroom almost in an eyeblink, with teachers uploading online programs, and parents sending to the teachers the tasks once completed. Even before this unprecedented sanitary crisis, amazing social enterprises across African countries have developed low-cost educational technologies, accessible on dumb phones, like in the case of Eneza Education.
More fundamentally, technology is changing the relationship between the teacher and the student. Much of the information that only teachers possessed is now available to students online. The role of a teacher is changing towards that of a facilitator or coach, while students are no longer merely consuming knowledge but are contributing to knowledge creation. Technology also leads to a deeper learning experience by creating more personalised, self-directed experiences for students.
How can African schools adapt to the challenges of the global market? How can they bridge the skills gap?
S.V. In the past 20 years, Sub-Saharan African countries have made significant progress in poverty reduction and access to education. Between 1984 and 2014, public expenditure on education has increased sevenfold on average. Yet, the workforce is the least skilled in the world. To build their human capital and bridge the skills gap, Sub-Saharan African countries should start by increasing investments in the early years and ensuring the acquisition of foundational skills.
In most African countries, the skills gap begins indeed to widen at an early age, as a large majority of children experience a difficult start in life, suffering from chronic malnutrition and lacking adequate stimulation to support the development of socio-emotional and cognitive skills. This situation hinders readiness to learn even before children enter the formal school system. The skills gap continues to widen as most children struggle to acquire literacy and numeracy skills in primary school.
To address this situation, countries should set as a priority tackling teachers’ absenteeism and accountability, and improving teaching practices. Once youths make it to technical education and vocational training, programs are often misaligned with the labour market’s needs and don’t pay attention to existing gaps in foundational skills and other skills required to cope with rapidly changing jobs. This mismatch highlights the pressing need for the government designing the skills agenda to engage with various stakeholders, such as families and caregivers, who play a critical role in the early years, and the private sector for relevant inputs when it comes to training programs.
Each African country has its own political, economic and cultural contexts, but could you outline some commonalities in education throughout the continent? What are the major challenges in 2020?
Imagine that you have a superpower to change two things about the education system in Ivory Coast, what would you change immediately?
C.S First, I would establish a reliable, well-regulated performance-based payment system to reward performing teachers based on children's learning outcomes and use them as role models across the country.
Second, I would ensure that school canteens, especially in rural areas, are functional throughout the school year with a symbolic contribution from the parents.
What is your favourite example (or a few ones) of an efficient innovation or approach in education, preferably that happened in the African realia?
C.S. Listing some of my current favourites:
What do you consider the most significant achievement of TRECC in Africa and in the Ivory Coast in particular?
S.V. Over the last few years, TRECC has brought together the government of Ivory Coast, twelve cocoa and chocolate companies, three philanthropic organisations and twenty civil society organisations to improve quality education in the country. This private-public partnership has mobilised financial and intellectual capital to support the government of Ivory Coast in pursuing two of its strategic objectives: ensuring a good start in life and providing quality education to all children. As TRECC was launched, few believed that we would be successful in bringing together such a diverse group of stakeholders, with very different missions and interests. Yet, the TRECC ecosystem has taken shape progressively and is demonstrating the value of collaborative efforts to support system-wide changes.
What do you think is the biggest value of cooperation between TRECC and such organisations as Seedstars?
S.V. We share with Seedstars a passion for entrepreneurial spirit and the conviction that entrepreneurs can produce affordable innovative solutions to improve living conditions in emerging markets. Seedstars travels the world to identify talented changemakers and start-ups that develop solutions to address many of the challenges of the traditional education systems. With the education prize, TRECC wants to celebrate the creativity, determination and professionalism of these young changemakers that contribute to fulfill the promise of education.
Launched in February 2016, TRECC (Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities) is a program supported by the Jacobs Foundation, the Bernard van Leer Foundation and the UBS Optimus Foundation. TRECC works with industry partners, the Ivorian government, researchers, non-governmental organisations, local organisations and entrepreneurs.TRECC fosters close collaboration between public and private institutions that share a common goal: to ensure that children in Ivory Coast are afforded a good start in life and quality education. TRECC is now preparing to extend to Ghana.
To learn more about the education in Ivory Coast, please check the ‘Report on the State of EdTech in Ivory Coast’ by TRECC and Seedstars.
ASIA • ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES
Can Green Startups in Asia Help Mitigate Climate Change?
The Metronome, the famous Manhattan digital clock in Union Square, started the countdown to the next climate disaster.
AFRICA • ECOSYSTEM ENABLER
Designing Virtual Learning Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Africa [Q&A]
If we say that COVID-19 has changed the world, it would be an understatement. COVID-19 disrupted our world.
AFRICA • EDUCATION & CONSULTING
Can Vocational Training Help the African Economy Soar to New Heights?
When the time comes to make career choices, modern young people suddenly find themselves in a seismically active world, where rock-solid paradigms are cracking, new normals are forming, and opportunities are flowing like lava.
GLOBAL • INVESTMENT
5 Simple Mistakes Start-ups Can Avoid When Measuring KPIs
Despite some fantastic ideas, brilliant products and passionate owners, it’s a sad fact that most start-ups never make it to their third year.
GLOBAL • ECOSYSTEM ENABLER
New Seedstars Index: Efficient Tool for Data-Driven Decision Making
The Seedstars Index (SSI) has been fully reworked for the 2020 edition with the aim of achieving a higher quality predictive indicator for the success of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Why SSI is a powerful tool for data-driven decision making:
AFRICA • OTHER
Bridging the Gap: How to Prepare Younger Generations to the Future of Work
Access without quality undermines investments in the sector and yields limited gains. Ivory Coast, and the continent more broadly, has witnessed an increase of the school attendance rates
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE • URBAN DEVELOPMENT
How Switzerland Won Its Title of the Country of Innovation
What makes Switzerland unique? How did the country manage to become the global leader in innovation?
GLOBAL • HR
Being a Better Leader: 5 Skills Founders Have to Learn to Survive Their First Year
It's not all doom and gloom. Founders have to realize that setting up a business is hard, but also that most challenges can be surpassed if tackled with the right mindset and skills.
GLOBAL • URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Civic Tech: Building More Transparent Societies in Developing Countries
Our society is at a tipping point. Consequently, there is an urgent need for developing sustainable economic and social solutions for change. This is where transparency comes in.
AFRICA • FINANCIAL SERVICES
Future bright as african tech startup funding grows
Africa has long lagged behind the rest of the world when it comes to investment, even in the continent’s most exciting tech areas.
AFRICA • AGRICULTURE
Agritech in Africa: Paving The Way For a New Era in Farming
Imagine a drone flying 100 metres over a section of Nigerian farmland, taking infrared pictures that will then tell the farmer if his crops are suffering from a disease – up to 10 days before the damage is visible to the naked eye.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA • TECHNOLOGY
Overview of the Entrepreneurial Landscape in MENA by Omar Christidis, CEO of Arabnet [Interview]
Recently, we had a chance to talk to Omar Christidis, CEO of Arabnet
ASIA • ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES
Fighting Trash: How Myanmar Is Tackling the Waste Problem in the Country?
At the forefront of the Myanmar waste discussion, the historic nation grapples with managing unwanted products like plastic and food
GLOBAL • TECHNOLOGY
Migrant Workers: Four Ideas On How Technology Can Support Skills Mobility
In this article, we will focus on the question of mobility skills, because building the right framework and policies to enable the movement of people is primordial for a sustainable economy and social wellbeing of the world’s population.
AFRICA • TECHNOLOGY
Key Ways to Shape Africa's Tech Startup Sector: Media Perspective
Heyl has also taken an undisclosed share in the company, which was founded in 2010 by the late media entrepreneur Matthew Buckland, who passed away in April.
AFRICA • GOVERNMENT
Delivering Public Services Through Technology and Entrepreneurship
The delivery of public services such as healthcare, education, sanitation and criminal justice, is a key task for any government.
GLOBAL • PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
What Is a Password Manager, and Why Does Your Startup Need One
When you’re running a startup, it goes without saying that you’ve got a lot on your plate: managing your team, updating all your social media channels, responding to user feedback. The list goes on.
GLOBAL • FINANCIAL SERVICES
Fintech and the Future of Your Money
At the intersection of finance and technology lies a phenomenon that has been reshaping the world of money. The rise of the internet has brought about a high degree of disruption to almost all industries and financial services are no exception.
GLOBAL • HEALTHCARE
Digital Health: A Solution to Growing Problems in Healthcare
The Healthtech industry spans a broad number of sub-sectors: hospitals and practitioners; insurance companies; consumer-facing services; pharmaceuticals; and government – to name a few.
LATIN AMERICA • INVESTMENT
Chile — the Leading LATAM Startup Ecosystem
Known for its numerous breathtaking landscapes, wineries, and abundance of copper, Chile is a country that has so much more to offer.
GLOBAL • TECHNOLOGY
Proven Methodologies for Delivering an Interactive Workshop in the Tech Industry
Hosting a workshop at a conference or an event can be strenuous
GLOBAL • ENTERPRISE
How To Make The Most Out Of A Networking Event
Although some entrepreneurs out there attribute their success to luck, savvy startups know that real business opportunity is created through hard work and consistently showing up in the right place at the right time.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE • FINANCIAL SERVICES
The FinTech Stars Journey: An Insight on the Three-Month Acceleration Program
Have you ever been to Astana? You would be surprised. Sky-high glass buildings, newly built smart quarters with entrances by a fingerprint scan, huge Expo area - firstly, a venue for the biggest Exposition “Future of Energy”