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Meeting Education Needs During COVID

There have been reports that some countries have provided students with free data during the pandemic. We have heard of some individual educational institutions, such as TUC in SA, providing data to scholars. If anyone has information of countries providing data free for students please let me know.  Meanwhile, in Malawi, a British charity, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), has distributed solar-powered computer tablets with pre-programmed lessons to rural primary school students. The content is in Chichewa, Malawi’s main language, and helps with reading, writing and math. VSO reports that it has provided 1,000 tablets to learners from poor families who cannot access the radio and television lessons which the government is currently providing.

Founded in February 2016,  Nigerian ed-tech startup W3tutor offers a host of online courses on all kinds of digital skills, including programming, artificial intelligence and graphic design aimed at letting its students acquire digital skills. Currently the platform has over 6,000 registered students who take courses online on the platform, and this number is swiftly growing. But W3tutor is also building a strong offline presence. Aside from its online courses, the self-funded W3tutor also facilitates offline lessons between tutors and students. Around 900 students have participated in offline training sessions in the last 10 months, with the startup targeting all the major Nigerian cities. The startup makes money from the sale of premium online courses and the offline training, and is generating enough to easily cover its costs and steady growth.
Meanwhile, the most recent figures from Statistics South Africa put the graduate unemployment rate in SA at 31% in the first quarter of 2019. Among the reasons for the unemployment rate are the needs and expectations of the labour market and the quality of graduates leaving higher education institutions. Research into graduate work readiness has shown that there is a gap between what universities produce and what employers expect. Researchers propose that the learning process should be created through collaboration between the student, host organisations (which are often the potential employer) and the higher education institution. This will help develop skills that are specific to an industry. Work-integrated learning may therefore become a crucial part of SA’s tertiary education system.

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Alastair Tempest

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