World Bank (2007): Study of ICT and education in Africa

This 2007 study, based on country studies conducted by the World Bank in 53 countries, offers a snapshot of the use of ICT in Africa’s education sector. The document reviews the strategies and policies in use at the time, but it also identifies challenges and constraints in this area, based on observation of the real situations met in the field.

Through this report, it can clearly be seen that the existence of national ICT policies (only five of the countries observed had no such policy) encourages the development of ICT policies in education. However, this process takes time and is complicated to implement. The ICT infrastructure available in education was expanding rapidly, but its use was still hampered by the cost of connectivity and the sharp disparities between rural and urban areas.

In 2007, universities, and African higher education in general, were lagging behind in terms of ICT integration, but with a marked tendency to remedy the situation. The development of digital learning materials suffered from the priority given to institutional efforts to broaden access to Internet connectivity.

In African primary and secondary schools, the World Bank study observed real promotion of ICT as a scholastic subject, in addition from its integration into the education system, along with teacher training plans. Although the development of educational content remains limited, various technologies are used for school connectivity, in addition to the possibility of computer laboratories. Television, radio, VSAT and cell phones are the options used; in 2007, Internet access was rare in schools, except in a few countries.

Another aspect covered by the study is the issue of gender equality in access to, use of and production of ICT. Projects to promote gender equality and render African girls and women more autonomous were therefore conducted to address this sexist breach in African schools.

Factors that constrain or encourage the use of ICT in African education are presented in a table that recapitulates how the factors identified should be taken into account. Factors examined in the report include policy frameworks and tax resources, support from leaders, gender equality, infrastructure and access, collaboration mechanisms, human resource capacity and learning content.

In conclusion, this World Bank study on ICT in African education systems makes suggestions on how to energize the process of ICT integration, which was already under way in 2007.

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