Africa Coronavirus Digital Inclusion Education Social Tech

Fund launched to boost remote learning in Africa

African-based entrepreneurs and innovators will benefit from a 20 million shillings (about US$200k) fund that was launched to promote remote learning in the continent during the COVID-19 pandemic era.

The International Publishers Association (IPA), which will administer the fund, said in a statement issued in Nairobi that it will help tackle negative impacts on remote learning in Africa linked to the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has taught us that technology can protect people and enable life and learning to continue. But this technology is not accessible to everyone,” said Bodour Al Qasimi, the vice-president of IPA.

“We are looking for bright minds and clever solutions to overcome these challenges in Africa by bringing learners, teachers and educational materials closer at a safe distance,” she added.

Al Qasimi said that IPA will fund cutting edge ideas from African innovators with potential to eliminate bottlenecks to distance learning created by COVID-19.

She said that anti-COVID-19 containment measures like lockdowns have slowed down distance learning in Africa, adding that home-grown innovations are required to address the challenge.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says that 89 percent of learners in Sub-Saharan Africa have no access to a computer, 82 percent have no internet access and around 56 million learners live outside mobile networks, thus complicating their ability to study remotely.

Also read: US$250M education fund for children amid outbreak

Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive officer at Dubai Cares, an Emirates-based charity, said that COVID-19 presents an opportunity for African publishing industry to innovate and become a key player in distance learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic could be seen as a tipping point to a digital transition in the publishing industry in Africa,” said Al Gurg.

“We look forward to witnessing a high turnout among entrepreneurs and innovators in Africa along with their unique solutions and ideas in support of the publishing industry,” he added.

Al Gurg said that investments in high-speed internet connection and capacity building for tutors and learners is key to improve distance learning in Africa amid closure of schools linked to COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Xinhuanet

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