Barriers developing countries face in implementing Edtech solutions

There has been a significant boom in the adoption of Edtech globally, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic pushed many schools to go online and supplement teaching and student learning — as a result, Edtech solutions became the go-to. However, the integration of Edtech is not as simple for all, particularly for developing countries. To understand why this is the case, we need to understand some barriers developing countries face in implementing Edtech solutions.

1. Access to constant electric supply

In Africa, although the number of people with access to electricity doubled from 9 million people a year between 2000 and 2013 to 20 million people a year between 2014 and 2019, as of 2019, there were still 580 million Africans without access to electric power. This affects Edtech adoption because it will be a struggle to use devices connected electronically without reliable and affordable energy.

To combat this, Edtech solutions in such regions need to embrace alternative energy sources such as solar. Also, we should prioritize the need for low-tech, high-impact Edtech solutions to overcome this hurdle. Solutions that have

We need EdTech Solutions that targets underserved communities

2. Internet connectivity

According to the World Bank, only about 35% of persons living in developed countries have access to the internet. Internet penetration in developing countries can be achieved through the collaborative efforts of governments, mobile phone operators, and private institutions. Related to this is also the cost barrier of Internet usage. In India, a student downloading 10 KB of data will cost about 0.03 Rupees. For a gigabyte of data, that is an average of 3000 rupees (nearly $50). These costs can be steep costs for students when compounded over time.

Also, the quality of internet access has to be factored in when assessing the efficiency of Edtech solutions in less developed areas. Students need enough bandwidth to download or view videos and other course materials.

Consequently, we need Edtech solutions that can provide course content that is not solely dependent on internet connectivity and high bandwidth.

3. Local languages and context.

In Africa alone, there are over 2,000 languages spoken. According to the World Bank Group, only about 43% of children in sub-Saharan Africa have completed lower secondary education. This means millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa have never been to school or only attended school for a few years, which is nearly negligible. This gap creates an opportunity for Edtech to prevail and help out-of-school children still receive a quality education.

Students need learning material that is relatable

However, understanding these children’s limited education means many cannot speak any other language apart from their local language. As a result, Edtech not offered in local languages can prove ineffectual. Even if the instructions and course content is written in the local language, many are not literate enough to read their local languages. Additionally, context matters; we should not directly lift course content and translate this material with predominantly western examples as most children will find learning material more challenging to assimilate.

Consequently, instead of transposing Edtech in developing countries, cultural nuances and peculiarities need to be studied, and solutions should be tailor-made to cater to these. Thus, these digital tools must be produced locally and in easy-to-understand formats (audio, video, games, and quizzes).

4. Lack of adequate training and support

Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels
Teachers also need support to facilitate eLearning. Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels

Before we implement Edtech in classrooms, teachers first need to understand its importance and view it as an aid to learning.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Increases individual student learning by helping them to learn at their own pace
  • Increases learning satisfaction due to the interactivity with content
  • It helps address the different learning levels and styles of students
  • Can help to cover course material at a faster pace

Once teachers see the usefulness of Edtech, they also need to be trained on how to use the technologies. Once they can properly use them, they can help the students utilize them. Moreover, Edtech solutions can also help teachers by teaching them the course material and ensuring they fully understand what they are to teach. However, since technologies change, training will need to be held at continuous intervals to ensure the teachers’ skills are current.

What we should remember

As technology advances and makes strides in the educational sector, our work as a global village is to ensure that developing countries are also pushing forward in Edtech.

Understanding the barriers they face in adopting such technologies is the first step in addressing them:

  1. Lack of constant electric power means we need off-grid and low-power solutions.
  2. With low internet penetration in many developing countries, having content available offline and creating lightweight but robust courses will help overcome this challenge.
  3. Many developing countries have diverse languages and cultural nuances, so Edtech content should be in local languages and be in engaging and easy-to-understand formats.
  4. Edtech should be a collaborative effort between the technology, students, and teachers. Thus, teachers should be adequately trained in using such technologies, which are great supplements for teaching and student learning.

Once we begin to dismantle these barriers, we will be well on our way to seeing a faster uptake in Edtech in developing regions.

About Chalkboard Education

Chalkboard Education provides mobile-based distance training solutions tailored for NGOs. Lightweight, offline-first, and complete with full analytics capabilities, Chalkboard Education is designed for rural and hard-to-reach community training. Currently used in 10+ countries in Africa and South America, Chalkboard Education is available worldwide.

Watch How Chalkboard Education Works

References

Bingimlas, K. A. (2009). Barriers to the Successful Integration of ICT in Teaching and Learning Environments: A Review of the Literature. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, 235–245.

International Energy Agency. (2020). SDG7: Data and Projections: Access to electricity. Retrieved from Iea: https://www.iea.org/reports/sdg7-data-and-projections/access-to-electricity

Jackson, T. (2016, January 6). E-learning for Africa is held back by power shortage. Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-35177144

Johnson, A., Jacovina, M., Russell, D., & Soto, C. (2016). Challenges and solutions when using technologies in the classroom. Adaptive Educational Technologies for Literacy Instruction, 13–29.

Lower secondary completion rate, total (% of relevant age group) — Sub-Saharan Africa | Data. (2022). Retrieved January 23, 2022, from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.SEC.CMPT.LO.ZS?locations=ZG

Ramani, S. (2015). The internet and education in the developing world — hopes and reality. Smart Learning Environments.

The Christian Science Monitor. (n.d.). Why does Africa have so many languages? Retrieved from The Christian Science Monitor: https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/Science-Notebook/2015/0421/Why-does-Africa-have-so-many-languages#:~:text=With%20more%20than%202%2C000%20distinct,seventh%20of%20the%20world's%20population.

Trucano, M. (2014, July 22). Promising uses of technology in education in poor, rural, and isolated communities around the world. Retrieved from EduTech: https://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/education-technology-poor-rural

World Bank. (n.d.). Connecting for Inclusion: Broadband Access for All. Retrieved from The World Bank: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/digitaldevelopment/brief/connecting-for-inclusion-broadband-access-for-all

Wright, C. (2014, April). 5 Key Barriers to Educational Technology Adoption in the Developing World. Retrieved from Edutech Debate: http://edutechdebate.org/2014-ict4edu-trends/5-key-barriers-to-educational-technology-adoption-in-the-developing-world/

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Educational technology in Africa and emerging markets https://www.chalkboard.education/

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Chalkboard Education

Chalkboard Education

Educational technology in Africa and emerging markets https://www.chalkboard.education/

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