Despite having the world's most youthful population, Africa faces ongoing skills development issues among several challenges - and these will lead the agenda at eLearning Africa's (eLA) 13th International eLearning Conference in 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda from 26 – 28 September under the theme 'Uniting Africa'.
Next year's conference, organised in conjunction with ICWE GmbH and the Rwanda Convention Bureau, will tackle questions such as 'how can digital technology and education help to break down barriers to competitiveness?' and 'how can African leaders encourage ICT-centric growth, innovation and job creation?'
"It is wonderful that Rwanda is now setting a real example for other countries in technology-assisted learning and hosting a conference whose theme is 'Uniting Africa'. I am confident that eLearning Africa 2018 in Rwanda will be the biggest and most exciting eLA yet," said Rebecca Stromeyer, eLA Conference Organiser.
According to CIO East Africa, participants will be informed on the progress the country has made in applying technology to transform education."In 2014, the Government signed an agreement to incorporate information and communication technology into the country's schools and colleges," reads an excerpt from the report.
"The benefits of 'a new system of teaching that emphasises the use of computers and internet to impart knowledge' are already starting to be felt across the country. And now the Government is confident that by 2020 all schools in the country will have at least two smart classrooms and all subjects will have been digitised."
With digitalisation continuing to dominate discussion among businesses in Africa, the role of eLearning and skills development is gaining equal attention.
ITWeb Africa recently reported that according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), of all regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of educational exclusion. Over one-fifth of children between the ages of about 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14.
UNESCO's Institute for Statistics (UIS) says almost 60% of youth between the ages of about 15 and 17 are not in school. "Without urgent action, the situation will likely get worse as the region faces a rising demand for education due to a still-growing school-age population."
The 2017 Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) ICT Skills survey has found that a low interest in acquiring ICT skills is the main contributor to the challenge of continued skills shortage in South Africa.
Adrian Schofield, Manager of the Applied Research Unit at the JCSE says the need to generate more interest in acquiring ICT skills among South Africans is far more urgent than the need to lower the fees required by training institutions.
"I think the fees must fall (campaign) is really a diversion. It is important that education must be affordable - it's absolutely vital that it is affordable and we should make sure that not one single cent is wasted in delivering the best quality education, but education isn't free. The model of students paying for at least some of their education is accepted globally. Of more importance is that we are not creating the raw material pipeline of people who want to study in these subjects. The universities are full with students studying every subject under the sun but not enough of them are asking to study ICT related subjects and that comes from the way we encourage them at a young age and it has got nothing to do with the fees they might have to pay when they get to university."