African leaders need to “leapfrog the shackles of convention”

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Written on 24 April 2015 in News
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A major focus of the conference will be on the role technology-assisted learning can play in helping to develop the skills vital for the future of Africa

International experts will call for African leaders to “leapfrog the shackles of convention” at a major education conference next month, in order to ensure that African economic growth is sustained by adequately trained young people.

The programme for this year’s eLearning Africa, which is being co-organised by the African Union and co-hosted by the Government of Ethiopia, reflects the extraordinary breadth and pace of change underway in African education – and the challenge for new technology-based solutions to meet Africa’s growing demand for high quality education and training.

Africa’s leading conference on technology and learning, eLearning Africa, will celebrate its tenth anniversary next month in Addis Ababa with a typically diverse and challenging agenda. The programme for the conference is packed full of presentations on how technology and learning are changing the African continent.

A major focus of the conference will be on the role technology-assisted learning can play in helping to develop the skills vital for the future of Africa, by equipping young Africans with entrepreneurial expertise, supporting capacity development in key sectors such as health, and assisting a new generation of entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions in the education technology sector.

Other key themes for the conference will include the development and promotion of African research, boosting international cooperation in the education sector between African countries and the rest of the world, and the expansion of open education resources and tools.

Sessions at the conference will feature presentations on the use of mobile applications for health professionals, the use of gamification to bridge the skills and learning gap, an in-depth examination of the latest statistics on ICT in education in Africa, the role of education technology in empowering Africa’s female farmers, online African language learning, removing digital illiteracy, and developing the role of the librarian.

Some of the experts on education and technology will attend eLearning Africa and keynote speakers will include Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, makers of Firefox, and Shai Reshef, the founder and president of the University of the People. Under Surman’s leadership, Mozilla has developed a range of education-related products and services to promote web literacy and advance a new generation of digitally empowered citizens.

Reshef is a global education entrepreneur who has been working in the international education market for more than 25 years. He will argue that, with the numbers of potential students in Africa vastly outpacing currently available facilities, there is a critical need for smarter online resources to empower young people and provide the engine for continuing economic growth.

“Online education will make the revolution in traditional higher education, similar to that which the cellphone made with the revolution in communications.”

Rebecca Stromeyer, chief executive of ICWE GmbH, whose company is co-organising the event said today: “The programme shows that this year’s conference will be the most interesting, challenging and important in the eLearning Africa series. I am delighted to be back in Addis Ababa for our tenth anniversary and very pleased to be working with the African Union and the Government of Ethiopia on this important international event.”

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