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  • Benadette Wambui

Challenges of Online Education in Africa

Online education has become pretty common and very necessary especially after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It has forced so many schools and learning institutions to upgrade but it has had its own challenges.

Both teachers and students face different challenges. The teachers are supposed to move their classes online right away having no additional training and extra budget. As the comprehensive learning management systems usually cost an arm and a leg, teachers have to use numerous digital tools to deliver online education.

They start their day by opening multiple tabs for multiple purposes, switching between them.They attend virtual school, parents, and student meetings, trying to handle the amount of information we’re facing right now and decide on the teaching strategy.

They should grade the assignments coming from different places. They stay online 10 hours per day to clean up this mess, set up, streamline the processes making online learning more efficient. And this isn’t the full list of challenges in online teaching. The students have their own challenges as well. Let’s take a look at some of those challenges.

  1. Shortage or lack of gadgets

Some schools in Africa had already introduced online learning even before the pandemic hence most students if not all in those schools had the gadgets needed for online learning. However, schools in rural areas especially small schools didn’t have any online learning before and even during the pandemic because no student or even teacher had the necessary gadgets for the online learning.

  1. Computer literacy

Most teachers went to normal colleges and universities that taught them very little or nothing about online education. Most students in Africa go through an education system that teaches very little and some nothing about computers. Some of the teachers and so many students are not computer literate which is a big challenge for online education.

  1. Data privacy

Teachers and students have been connected using multiple digital tools without paying due attention to the amount and nature of the personal data they collect. Reaching the main objective of a quick transition to online learning, we had to neglect our privacy, especially when large e-learning software suppliers offering temporary free subscription plans.

  1. Isolation

This rather psychological factor is still highly affecting students’ motivation and learning progress especially during the pandemic. Being in the classroom, students got used to instant eye-to-eye communication with each other allowing reacting together, sharing the experience, joking, & making a non-verbal contact, strengthening the social skills. For many students, a classroom has been a kind of sanctuary, which is now taken away.

  1. Lack of interaction

During the online lectures, it’s hard to keep students engaged without a teacher’s physical presence and face-to-face contact. Moreover, a key concern is connected to science labs (physics, chemistry, etc.), impossible to put into practice without in-person instructions and courses relying mostly on hands-on work (i.e. nursing, art classes).

As a pioneer in online education in Africa HURU School has taken these challenges head on and offers its students blended and online learning through easy to use platforms meant to reduce redundancy and enhance the quality of education.

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