analysis By Molly Wasonga
Education is an essential element that underpins the social and economic advancement of any community, and quantifies its future sustainability. The value of education, therefore, cannot be understated, especially in Africa where more than 20 percent of its population is youthful.
However, Africa faces numerous challenges in the education sector which range from low enrolments, insecurity in institutions, academic theft, forgery of academic documents to lack of quality learning execution mechanisms. Statistics by UNICEF revealed that despite more than 90 percent of primary-school-age children having been enrolled in school worldwide, in sub-Saharan Africa, only 79 percent were enrolled in 2018.
Further details indicate that the number of out-of-school children has increased by 1.7 million since 2014 worldwide. But for Africa, a report by the World Bank shows that less than 10 percent of college-age students in sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries in total) are currently enrolled in higher education.
These statistics reveal a trend of factors that undermine Africa’s potential to sustainably develop and advance economically and socially through education.
Partly, these challenges have been due to problems innate to African social-economic status but on the larger side, they are due to poorly set up structures that incapacitate the ability to track the education of an African child from the inception.
Consequence as well has been the inability to keep learning interesting and fun to children and as a result, most have failed to understand that education should be part and parcel of their lives.
However, technology which has been a revolutionizing agent can be embraced to fill in the missing gaps and give education a new direction that can align it to the socio-economic growth needs of the African continent.
Blockchain is undisputedly an ingenious invention. It’s a technology that began as underpinning for virtual currencies but it is quickly becoming obvious that blockchain is more than just bitcoin. The encrypted ledger technology that powers bitcoin is primed to reshape the future of many industries.
Blockchain, according to Internet Society, is a form of distributed public ledgers that hold immutable data in a secure and encrypted way and ensures that transactions can never be altered, can be tapped into to transform education in the natural resource-endowed continent.
For use in a distributed environment, blockchain technology is managed by a peer-to-peer network in which once data is recorded, a copy is made to the peers. Any attempt to modify the data in one block will be referred to other blocks for a consensus by the majority.
In many applications that blockchain technology has been used such as commerce, it has resolved trust by assuring security. It has enhanced transparency and accountability and as well sustained track of commercial activities over time that has provided essential information input to other sectors.
For the education sector, the technology can be used by governments in Africa to capture details of learners, learning methodologies and techniques to analyze and track them for improved learning and progression.
To facilitate tracking of an African child’s education, at birth their details are captured and an education management identification number assigned to them. In every learning institution, the system must be set up such that once a learner reports to school their details are updated and a progress report set.
These systems can be set up at each institution and networked with other learning facilitated technologies and the information connected in a way that they can be centrally managed. At each stage of their testing, the details are recorded to give a picture of their growth and interests that will define which field of learning the child can progress best.
This will eliminate cases where several countries have been grappling with sustaining 100 percent transition from various stages of learning due to lack of statistics to explain where the child is. Data gathered can as well be used to analyze the best instructional methods and curriculum essentials they require. It can as well act as a preamble to curriculum review to align itself with the needs of the development needs of the society.
As far as academic honesty is concerned, once in the system, an employer, for instance, will only need an applicant’s Educational Information Identification Number which they can query in the system to provide their academic and professional qualifications. With this technology taking shape in Africa, a lot of research has been initiated and its abilities to revolutionize the education sector just slowly unravelling.
For instance, a school in Kenya developed an app that monitors learners’ school attendance by sending alerts to parents once a child arrives home or at school. The app has learners’ details and captures those leaving or entering the school compound. It also has a Google Map that has incorporated most of the pick-up and drop-off stages of learners by the school bus.
A parent is sent an SMS 5 minutes to a bus picking up or dropping their child hence she or he can know when and where the child is so that in case they do not arrive home, the alarm is raised immediately at both home and school.
This app brings hope closer and challenges governments, organizations and software development firms in Africa to take the bull by its horns and embrace blockchain technology in preparing an African child for tomorrow.