This year’s International Literacy Day finds us in unusual circumstances that we have not experienced before. It finds us at a time when education systems are disrupted due to lock-downs and restrictive measures, with over 1.5 billion learners in more than 195 countries across the globe discovering and piloting with new ways of learning.
Within a short period, educators across all academic levels were forced to rethink or adjust the way they delivered content to learners. Phrases such as online learning, learning management systems, among others became the order of the day. Technology has allowed learners to keep following their lessons and classes through remote online learning, with the possibility of following courses and their teachers/lecturers from home.
Similarly, the Internet and other forms of information and communication technologies redefined the nature of reading, writing, and communication and the impacts have been more profound during this time. For example, learners being required to respond or submit assignments using chats, pdf, voice notes, podcasts, videos or even navigate through systems such as Moodle etc
Despite this progress, the crisis intensified pre-existing education inequalities by reducing the opportunities for many children, youth, and adults. These inequalities have been aggravated by a huge digital divide making it impossible for them to access education remotely. For example, according to the Usawa report only 22 out of 100 learners have access to technology in Kenya. This deprives them of the fundamental human right to an education that exposes them to 21st-century skills which form a huge part of new forms of literacies.
Access to quality education and in this case one that has 21st-century skills at its center represents a major concern for Edutab Africa. We realized that the restrictive measures in education due to the COVID-19 pandemic were further widening the gap in children’s education. Without access to laptops, electronic devices, or an adequate internet connection many children were therefore going without an education, threatening to hold them back from progressing to the next year due to lack of attendance and performance review.
In response to this, Edutab Africa has launched a series of activities to promote learning whilst students are at home. We have now over the last few weeks been producing weekly podcasts of read aloud African stories from the African Story Books project to promote literacy and second language acquisition. We have availed these audio books/podcasts in various formats that can be played by different media players devices such as feature phones.
Besides this, Edutab Africa is working to curate Open Educational Resources in new forms of literacy in a channel in an offline learning management system, Kolibri. These resources will not only enable the learners to get access to educational materials but also acquire life skills, We will be creating a community network to enable accessibility from home.
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