With the growth of internet penetration in Africa, there has been hopes that Africa’s educational systems might be streamlined and problems such as poor funding, lack of qualified teachers and lack of continuous training, governments inability to meet the growing student population and corruption and politicization of education among others would easily be met.
Even on the continent, there are several entrepreneurs taking these problems by the horn launching apps and platforms tackling several angles of the problem. However, edtech might not be the savior everyone has been waiting for and governments might be disappointed too if they think edtech will solve all their educational problems.
Speaking at the Africa Tech Summit, Wesley Lynch, CEO Snapplify, an edtech startup with operations in the UK, South Africa and Kenya said technology will not solve educational problems in Africa.
“Just as there are good teachers and bad teachers and good schools and bad schools, tech will not solve any of these educational problems. Tech brings in more information and insights and if governments or stakeholders don’t care, nothing much will change,” he said, adding that technology only helps bring in accountability, efficiency among others.
Lynch said there is need to retrain teachers, need to increase spend on research, develop new curriculum to ensure it will work better with the current job market needs among others. Lynch also added that technology will help bring in equality to schools whether in urban areas or in rural areas.
Sanpplify has a Snapplify Reader which is an easy-to-use application that allows users to read eBooks on their Android smartphones or tablets, whenever and wherever they please. The platform aims to bring thousands of bestselling eBooks, children’s books, textbooks, and exam papers to students and users across its markets. However, Lynch says digital learning will not replace face to face learning that quickly as people think as there are programmes that need one-on-one training such as surgery among others and therefore the physical book will be around for a while.
As the largest aggregator of publisher ebooks in Africa, Snapplify provides access to e-textbooks from over 250 leading educational publishers globally. In 2017, Snapplify rolled out e-learning solutions to just under 1000 South African schools, and ran digital learning pilots in Kenyan schools. Snapplify’s award-winning Snappbox – a hardware distribution solution for ebooks – has increased affordable access to digital books where internet connectivity is limited or expensive.