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LETTER spring 2014

Information and communication technology

Better access for all to quality education?

CONTENT p1 Cover photo p1 Word from the President © IDAY-International aisbl

p2 Brief p3-4 ICT and education

Raising voices for education in Africa

Classroom equiped with the project “One Laptop per child” - Rwanda

Cover Photo

Classroom at Boudah School - Nouakchott, Mauritania - January 2014

With the support of the King Baudouin Foundation

IDAY-International 19, rue des Jambes - 1420 Braine-l’Alleud - Belgium Responsible Publisher: J-J. Schul - Editor in chief/Layout & Design: D. Devillers - T. +32 (0)2 385 44 12 - Bank account: IBAN - BE 93 5230 8026 6767 - SWIFT - TRIOBEBB (TRIODOS)


Promoting advanced technology in countries where a great many children do not have access to basic quality education, where minors in prison do not have a mattress to sleep on, and where domestic workers do not have access to basic literacy or vocational training might appear to be led into the pitfalls of the latest trends largely responsible for failed international aid. However, in keeping with IDAY's philosophy, the network responds to the expectations of its members. They are aware of the priority problems because they are closest to the most destitute. If they believe that IT resources can help provide universal quality education in their country, IDAY says "we are ready!". Furthermore, these proposals clearly fall within the scope of what is known as "social business" in which NGOs cooperate with private firms to initiate viable ventures, thereby reducing the dependency of social activists on philanthropy and international aid. IDAY therefore supports these developments with the additional aim of narrowing the North-South divide in terms of access to modern educational resources. I hope that private firms will join our efforts in offering young Africans the means of becoming competitive in a rapidly expanding global economy.

Jean-Jacques Schul Founding member & Chairman of IDAY-International


We will be celebrating the International Day of the African Child in Brussels, on Saturday, June 14. Save the date! We will have some surprises to share with you. You are in Africa? Ask the IDAY coalitions about their different programmes, or visit our website !



A step towards recognition As we earlier mentioned, the project for the protection, legal recognition and training of domestic workers co-funded by the European Union was effectively launched in January 2014. The teams on the ground are busy preparing a regional strategy that will allow assessing the extent of the phenomenon and identify concrete responses to the issues at stake.


Excellent report for Artemisia annua against malaria! Dr Patrick Ogwang, Dr RenĂŠ Christensen, scientist Flora Mbela Lusendi and Pr Tobias Arudo conducted an initial assessment on the cultivation of Artemisia annua in Kenyan school gardens and its use against malaria. The results are promising. The preliminary scores are as follows: 9/10 9/10 8/10



for mobilisation and awareness-raising in schools and prisons. for the supply and planting of Artemisia annua. for national coverage via the school and prison networks which themselves distributed the plant, together with the methods for its cultivation and use, to neighbouring communities. for the presence of Artemisia annua in all schools at the time of the assessment. This was due to a number of reasons, including the desperate lack of water in certain regions and the season not suited to cultivation at the time of the visit. for the evaluation of services and the desire to continue the project in schools. All schools expressed their satisfaction. The plant is contributing to the decline of the disease itself and thereby reducing absenteeism from school. It is also helping to reduce healthcare expenditure.

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ICT mainly comprises computer, audiovisual, multimedia, Internet and telecommunications techniques which allow users to communicate, have access to sources of information, and to store, handle, produce and transfer information in all forms: text, document, music, audio, image, video, and interactive graphic interfaces. source: de_l%27information_et_de_la_communication 漏 Rafaela Printes - class -

Africa means 54 countries, 2000 languages, more than a billion inhabitants and colossal challenges to be overcome in order to meet the needs in terms of education. Should greater emphasis be placed on information and communication technology (ICT) in order to guarantee basic universal quality education, the primordial factor for the development of the continent? The 2013 African ministerial forum on the incorporation of ICT in education and training closed on a positive note in favour of investment in this sector. Nevertheless, even though the benefits of ICT do not need to be demonstrated, its achievement at all costs is not a cure-all, and several questions still remain.

ICT, A MEANS OF IMPROVING EDUCATION OR AN END IN ITSELF? In 2006, at the University of Nairobi, Barack Obama encouraged African countries to become more dynamic in terms of ICT. In 2014, Kenya is responding to this recommendation


by providing the 400 000 children in its 6 000 primary schools with a laptop computer.

teachers. Organisational and structural problems will remain if the project is not articulated in a comprehensive policy.

Cost of the operation: USD 665 million.

Taking these difficulties into account, and as part of the steps to modernise State administration, C么te d'Ivoire drew up a 2012-2017 master plan on Electronic Governance. This project comprises two main themes: e-Administration and e-Services, the

The project, ambitious to say the least, has been strongly criticised in educational circles in Kenya, as the IT tools will not cover the millions of dollars necessary for training the lacking 80 000

latter aiming at improving the public services provided by the government to the citizens by using ICT in sector-based projects such as e-Education, e-Health, etc.. Understanding that education remains the foundation for development, the government decided to make e-Education an key component of the economic, social and cultural development of Côte d’Ivoire. Through e-Education, ICT resources will be made available to the entire education system of the country, with a focus on higher education, national education and technical and professional training.

"We chose the teaching sector because education is the basis for the development of society and it enables the emergence of future leaders" At the end of February 2013, at the mobile phone trade fair in Barcelona, Ivorian entrepreneur Thierry N'Doufou presented his “Qelasy” tablet exclusively designed for education (no question of playing Candy Crush or surfing on Facebook) and adapted to local realities owing to its water-tight and dust-resistant features. This project was developed in partnership with the government as part of its e-Education programme. The tablet includes every single school book used in Côte d’Ivoire, up to high school level, in digital format. The tablet has its own website where teachers can upload lessons, exercises, student marks, etc. which can then be downloaded using the tablet. "Qelasy",

which means "classroom", is the first educational tablet in Africa and will be marketed as from the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. In this instance, ICT has been well thought-out as a resource for improving governance, the educational sector and service quality. It thus appears to offer a more effective solution to the different challenges of access to universal quality education.

ICT, FOR GREATER EMPLOYABILITY OF THE YOUTH? CEJEDER, a member of IDAY-RDC/Kivu developed the project: "Improving the education of young people in rural areas with ICT". It involves an IT centre providing computer training for the unemployed youth and youngsters who were withdrawn from armed groups and forces. This project aims at increasing their employability. According to Pele PELELO AMISI, Executive Secretary of CEJEDER, the modules chosen for this training will enable the beneficiaries to manage cybercafés among other things. ICT is an essential resource as it makes it possible to reach a wide audience within a short space of time, with lower costs and appealing formats. A State policy is necessary in order to make up rapidly and broadly for the cumulative delay in the use of ICT in rural development. This is why IDAY-RDC/Kivu is advocating media and government support for the project.

The contribution of ICT to education in Africa should be assessed in relation to education needs, notably for the most disadvantaged groups, and in terms of the resources able to be generated locally so as to meet all of these needs without being excessively dependent on external inputs. ICT undeniably offers promising solutions for certain challenges facing the education sector in terms of flexibility, teaching and learning resources, or even for opening up knowledge and information to as many people as possible. It is essential that African countries incorporate this technology which is increasingly moulding the socioeconomic framework and interactions on a global level. For all that, it is worth giving careful consideration to attractive "solutions" forcefully promoted with external support without taking into account local realities and priorities, at the risk of overlooking other essential aspects of education. The joint report issued by the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the African Union, eTransform Africa - The Transformational Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Africa (2012) spells it out clearly: the challenge to be met for the future of the continent is to succeed in ensuring that ICT innovations are aimed at all Africans, including the poor, the most vulnerable and the inhabitants of the most remote regions.


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ICT, BENEFITING THE SCHOOLING OF DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN? According to UNESCO, nearly 30 million African primary school-age children do not attend school; the number of illiterate young people is equally striking. The shortage of qualified teachers and facilities are some of the obstacles preventing access to basic education. There are countless new digital solutions to address these needs. In a context in which the majority of African governments do not spontaneously mobilise adequate resources to guarantee free universal

primary schooling, it is consequently difficult to imagine them being able to invest directly in costly measures. And if the State does not make this technology available to all, it is unlikely that the disadvantaged children or their families would be able to do so. It appears even less likely that this would facilitate access to education for those who do not have access to the school system or drop out of school for economic reasons (poverty being the main cause of lack of schooling in Africa) or for social ones (girls, disabled children, children from ethnic minorities subjected to discrimination, minors deprived of their freedom, for instance). In the light of this observation, the organisation One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) offers governments an alternative which could also benefit vulnerable children. OLPC has developed a laptop which facilitates access to online lessons, among other features. It is destined for children in developing countries to help them learn, explore, experiment and express themselves. Interview with Sven Aerts, - EU and Diaspora, Leadership Development Institute - One Laptop Per Child community

How do you envisage funding the purchases of these laptops in the long term? The price of the OLPC XO laptop is equivalent to €162, and the portable solar panel which comes with it costs approximately €30. It lasts seven years on average. Hence, one laptop costs €27.51 per year, i.e. €2.29 per month. The XO laptop is highly efficient in terms of reducing CO2 emissions. Our calculations show that each computer generates 4 carbon credits, i.e. half of the price of the computer. (Editor's note: CO2 compensation involves funding a "clean" development project that helps reduce CO2 emissions. This principle was introduced by the Kyoto Protocol to offset CO2 emissions). Although the population still cannot afford this level of expenditure, it will ultimately cost governments nothing to invest in these computers. Let me give you an example: a population that can read, write, calculate, has ICT knowledge is more likely to invest more in means of communication (mobile phones, subscriptions or prepaid cards). Mobile phone companies can be easily taxed by governments. Research shows that the tax revenue thus obtained tops by far the €27.51 incurred per year, as from the very first tax year. In countries like Uruguay and Peru, all children between the age of 5 and 15 years have an XO, most of them since 2008.


ICT, SLOWING THE BRAIN DRAIN? According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, MOOC (massive open online courses) could help change the order of things, not only by disseminating knowledge but also by averting the brain drain, i.e. encouraging students not to settle abroad to continue studies, as they could now access such courses through MOOC and thereby acquire new knowledge and practical skills in their own country. Interview with Dr Salomon Tchameni Ngamo, Ph.D. in educational psychology, specialist in the incorporation of ICT into education and open distance training. In your opinion, are MOOC alone capable of preventing the brain drain from the African continent? In concrete terms, MOOC derive from distance training. They make it possible to learn from anywhere and at any time. They have numerous possibilities: possibility for a group of students to take part in an interactive form of distance training; availability of all traditional university educational resources; video presentations by a lecturer who is talking to the students; training theoretically free of charge; possibility of obtaining a qualification at an "affordable" price compared to on-site training abroad. Hence, MOOC offer flexibility and scale effects which have the potential

to resolve certain problems concerning access to education, such as distance, balancing work/family/ studies, and school fees. They generally offer course content originating from prestigious universities.

net migration -


They could thus undoubtedly reduce the number of people emigrating for their studies. In reality though, MOOC also pose major challenges: low exam success rate; large numbers of students; reliability of the certifying assessment methods; learning process requiring a great deal of autonomy; teaching quality (lack of rigour); low level of interaction or lack of communication between the tutor and students (limited feedback from the tutor); little or no interaction among students (no feedback from the teacher); poorly managed discussion forums, allowing students to sign up for or leave a course freely and sometimes very quickly; collaboration resources often rarely used by students. This is combined with a challenge in terms of the language of the MOOC which is different to the students' mother tongue. We therefore cautiously suggest that MOOC in themselves are not a cure-all for the brain drain, particularly regarding African countries: setting up MOOC



requires major financial resources which are not yet compatible with the resources of States, universities and a large part of the population on the continent. Although MOOC in certain large American universities enjoy phenomenal popularity, with virtual groups and sometimes astounding numbers of students on a single course, this new form of distance education requires further consideration. Only time and future studies on this issue will determine the effect of qualifications or training achieved by means of MOOC on reducing the brain drain from Africa. At present, MOOC, like ICT in general, deserve credit for offering universal access to knowledge, and helping to democratize education. This is an undeniable contribution. We need to remain optimistic and carefully assess the effectiveness of MOOC in slowing the brain drain.

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In your view, what are the conditions for good schooling in Africa?

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ACCESS TO COMPUTER RESOURCES FOR THE UNDERPRIVILEGED YOUTH PROJECT 39 From a simple email to computer-aided design, information technology is now at the heart of all competitive businesses. Most professions require the use of computers. In order to be fully functional and competitive on the employment market, it is essential to master basic computer knowledge. Aware of the stakes for youth employment, IDAY-RDC/Kinshasa designed the project "Improving access to computer resources for the underprivileged youth". It consists in creating an IT

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centre equipped with the latest modern technology with a twofold purpose: IT training centre and cybercafé.


Raising voices for education in Africa

Newsletter spring 2014  

Information and communication technology : better access for all to quality education?

Newsletter spring 2014  

Information and communication technology : better access for all to quality education?