I move that we start and EdTech revolution.
We cannot argue with fact that Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. Neither can we argue with the fact that Zimbabweans have been known to do great things…outside of Zimbabwe. What we can happily argue about is whether these high literacy levels are really relevant in the context of a largely information-driven globalizing world. I dare say our education is quickly becoming irrelevant.
So let’s start a revolution and we’ll call this revolution “The Zim EdTech Revolution”. The main thrust of this revolution will be to facilitate the marriage of technology and education for our prosperity in the 21st century. Here I’m not talking about just bringing computers into schools, colleges and universities (though that’s a part of it). I’m talking about technology as encompassing the infrastructure, the people, the skills and the information. Allow me to paint a picture of this vision:
- Imagine an environment where computer and programming skills are taught in all schools and form part of the standard curriculum for students from as early as Primary School (if you think this is a crazy proposition, check out this manifesto). The main point here is that our focus should shift from just learning how to use gadgets and software, but to also including learning about systems, understanding them and possibly making our own.
- Imagine a scenario where, as a parent, you can track your child’s progress at school, being advised of any corrective measures you may need to take as a parent to ensure maximum benefit to your child. A situation where you don’t have to worry about losing your fees receipts because you know the school has a financial tracking system integrated with the student information system.
- Imagine a scenario where all educators receive ICT training and teachers can deliver learning content to student through various media, and can track the progress of students on different concepts. Students can access learning resources on demand either on their phones, tablets, computers or the good old hard copy (it’s always nice to have that option).
- Imagine a scenario where all government and private schools are linked on a network, sharing learning resources and research efforts so that no one school may have an unfair advantage and information can easily flow. The Ministry of Education can also utilize this network to gather data about the schools, enrollment levels, drop-out rates etc.
Now you’re probably asking, “How exactly do you propose we go about this whole Zim EdTech Revolution?”
We can start by forming a not-for-profit “Zim EdTech Coalition”, which would include players from the technology and education spaces in both government and the private sector. This coalition would be responsible for driving innovation in education and offer a platform for cross-pollination of ideas among entrepreneurs, educationists and policy makers. I’m sure we have brilliant entrepreneurs and start-ups who want to focus on education sector innovations (like this, and this one, and this other one). So far, it appears they have been walking a lonely road but this coalition should address that.
The next stage of this Zim EdTech revolution would be for us to make as much noise as we can until we start being heard and taken seriously at the highest levels of policy making. And for this we will have an annual or biannual Zim EdTech Convention, where we will have thought leaders on technology and education share the latest trends and developments. This will also be a platform for entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders to engage and share ideas.
Finally, our Zim EdTech developer community should come together and collaborate on an “open education platform”. This platform will be pushed to government and adopted by all the government schools (and private schools too). Entrepreneurs can then start developing apps and plugins on this platform.
Fellow revolutionaries, the time is now. Let’s rise up and start this revolution, for the sake of our country. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. It falls upon this generation to take that step.
The question is, “Will we?”
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