Abu Dhabi — East Africa is leading Africa in terms of integration of technology in the education sector.
Warren Fleur, Microsoft's Regional Manager, Education Industry Sub Saharan Africa, says Kenya is leading the pack, followed by Rwanda. He spoke to Capital Business on the sidelines of the ongoing Bett MEA summit in Abu Dhabi at the United Arabs Emirates.
Describe to us the status of integration of technology in Kenya and the rest of the continent
It is a mixed bag where we are seeing substantial innovations in some parts of the continent while other places are seen to be lagging behind.
In Kenya with the digital literacy learning programme, we are seeing not just technology being used in the classroom, but also more broadly where there are programmes to support and sustain such innovations to make them more meaningful. These include activities such as modernizing the curriculum, teacher-training on the application of the programme or introducing digital content.
There is also Rwanda which is following in the footsteps of Kenya. There are however countries that are really lagging behind on the continent.
How does the continent compare with the rest of the world, for instance, UAE and the larger Middle East?
It is an unfair comparison considering we are a much larger population and have more intractable issues with infrastructure for example, so it is quite unfair. There, however, are similar challenges that include modernizing the curricula and applying new approaches towards teaching. Use of innovation in the classroom will definitely help them overcome these challenges. It will be about using technology in a way that will attract and spark innovation in the students. Teachers need to inspire this in students as it is being seen at the UAE. Africa could learn this from schools in the UAE.
What are Microsoft showcase schools and how many are there in Kenya?
Microsoft showcase schools are spaces where not only are there great teaching practices but also the application of technology to support innovative approaches towards learning. We consider them to be a holistic delivery of change; new teaching practices, new ways of using content, new ways of using virtual technology and new ways of collaborating with schools around the world.
Currently, there are about forty showcase schools around the continent and about seven in Kenya.
Why do parents, schools and society need to accept the new norm of having technology in the education system?
As we approach the third decade of the millennium, we need to prepare the students of the ever-changing world. We cannot begin to imagine what the class of 2030 will be doing in terms of technology or the kind of jobs they will have created. This is why we need to encourage them to integrate technology into their education.
Describe to the modern student
The modern student across Africa is rich, collaborative, thinks differently and has a computation mindset. He also thinks about problem-solving in unique ways. Africa is inherently a problem-solving part of the world and this student is the one looking for a solution where they use technology.