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Solutions for Schools in the Digital Divide, and Training in Africa in times of COVID

Students in Malawi have been out of school since March because of the COVID. While most students have been able to study from home with lessons offered on the internet or radio, many in poor and remote villages have been left out. The UK charity Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) has helped bridge the gap by distributing solar-powered computer tablets with pre-programmed lessons to rural primary school students. All the content is in Malawi’s main language, Chichewa, and helps students improve skills in reading, writing and math. VSO said it has so far provided 1,000 tablets to learners from poor families who cannot access the broadcast lessons which the government provides.

Nigerian startup Traindemy, which gives people access to online courses provided by vocational and technical schools to help them acquire in-demand skills, says its user base is increasing in size by 25% month-on-month. Launched in July 2018, it pivoted in August 2019 after it took part in the Injini ed-tech accelerator in Cape Town. Traindemy provides digital access to short courses in arts and crafts, agriculture, engineering and technology, etc. These courses are provided by some of the best vocational and technical schools in Africa and made available via the startup’s online marketplace. Traindemy has built a user base of around 1,000 clients. It is now looking to provide physical access once the COVID pandemic lifts.

Nigerian ed-tech startup W3tutor concentrates on helping people acquire digital skills through its online and offline courses. Founded in February 2016, W3tutor offers a host of online courses on all kinds of digital skills, including programming, artificial intelligence and graphic design. Currently, the platform has over 6,000 registered students who take courses online on the platform, and this number is growing fast.

Meanwhile, Prof. Sarah Agbor, Commissioner, AU Human Resources, Science and Technology has called for the development of digital skills in teachers across Africa, especially in post COVID period to ensure dynamism in learning at all levels.

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Alastair Tempest


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