AfricaN educational institutions have a responsibility to train and develop a critical mass of professionals who are skilled in promoting the African world view and using information technology to advance the continent’s development.
Africa’s future will depend on the willingness of its leaders and its people to make some hard choices. We do not have the resources — the money and the talent and the time — to do all the good things that might be done, that we would like to do.
In every area of our life, then, we have to choose. And choosing means we will not do some things that are good things. So, here are some choices I would make for the continent.
We need to decide if we are to remain uncertain about our relationship to the global economy, or to become wholeheartedly global. I choose our wholehearted involvement in the global economy.
If we are to succeed in the global economy, we need to decide between fixing and growing our present educational system, or designing a new educational system for the new challenges. I choose creating a new system.
Does creating a new educational system mean a violent discarding of the old system in favor of the new and untried? Not at all. It does, however, mean calling a halt—perhaps a temporary halt—to some old practices, and a careful plan of creating new institutions for new times.
So, how do we go about creating an educational system that will prepare Africans for the challenges of the new economy, the new society that is being created by ICT?
Here is one way.
We commit ourselves to doing as much as we can to harness the power of these new technologies for education, and to spending as little as possible on the old technologies—on the brick and mortar for classrooms and lecture halls and dormitories and the rest of the expensive apparatus that drains resources away from the central needs—teachers and students and knowledge that can be communicated without brick and mortar.
In most African countries today, university education can be provided for a fraction of those who qualify. Let us begin by creating The Open University of Africa, a university that will link teachers, students, and learning with the new communication technologies.
Let us design a new educational system at all levels that prepares students for life and work today; a workforce education that keeps our workers continuously aware of the newest in their fields; a new workforce educational programme that offers students on-the-job experience.
In the 21st century, students need rigorous coursework to gain the knowledge and skills to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and effective communicators.
They need the skills to make them technologically proficient, globally aware, civically engaged, and financially and economically literate. Students need skills that is relevant to workforce expectations; a new education that prepares students for today’s workforce.
Workforce education can provide the skilled workers, the technicians, and the professionals that Africa will need if it is to compete in the world economy successfully. This expansion and enrichment can only happen if Africa is able to harness the power of (ICT to connect teachers and learners to the knowledge they need, wherever that knowledge exits.
African educators should be aware of the changing educational paradigm and adopt to these changing trends. There is the need for us to rethink the current educational system. Leaders in the educational field must set the grounds for the change.
The advent of the information revolution presents numerous opportunities for this paradigm shift in education.
African educators should be able to identify these opportunities and take advantage of them.