ICT in Education Development in Africa: Policy and Institutional Frameworks

ICT in Education Development in Africa: Policy and Institutional Frameworks

Chijioke J. Evoh (New York City Department of Education, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-847-0.ch017
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This study presents the rationale for policy and institutional frameworks in the development of ICT in secondary education in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). As the adoption of modern ICTs slowly gain momentum, various stakeholders in education have recognized the importance of leveraging these technological tools for the improvement of teaching and learning. To a large extent, the application of modern ICTs in education remains uncoordinated in many countries. This study identifies the institutional framework as the dominant approach to ICT in education policy process in the region. This involves the participation of broad-based interest groups in the policy process. Using South Africa as a case study, the study presents elements of ICT in education policy as well as policy lessons that would enable African countries use ICTs for productive educational outcomes.
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If well appropriated in accordance with educational and development goals, information and communication technologies (ICTs) can enable activity-based teaching and learning processes in Africa. Although ICTs have gained widespread application in secondary and tertiary education in Africa and other developing regions, many have taken a skeptical glance at the effectiveness and sustainability of ICT in students’ achievement and educational outcomes in general (Cuban, 2002). However, there is a consensus that the potential of ICTs can assist African countries to move away from the archaic and traditional ‘rote based’ pedagogy, which has dominated education system in the region since the colonial era. Besides, the careful integration of ICTs in the education system in Africa can enhance education equity by bringing education curriculum to hard-to-reach groups and communities, and substantially improve administrative processes and efficiency in the education sector.

The focus of this paper is on the role of policy and institutional frameworks in the development of information and communication (ICT) in secondary education in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Although SSA is characterized by low level of ICT distribution, governments and development agencies in the region have recognized the imperative of leveraging modern ICTs for the improvement of education. Unfortunately, the plans of integrating ICT in social and economic development in Africa have not been met with the sufficient policy and institutional actions. While many countries and development groups have focused more on computer acquisition for schools, little has been done to develop a coherent and structured policy processes and frameworks to advance an effective integration of such technologies as educational tools. For this reason, ICT in education (ICTiE) is often treated as technical projects in schools with little or no focus on issues of policy.

Against this background, this paper presents the imperatives of policy and institutional frameworks for ICT-enhanced education system in Africa. This chapter seeks to delineate ICT policy in general and ICTiE policy in particular. These policy frameworks are different in emphasis, but, at the same time, they overlap each other since the later is a continuation of the former to use ICTs to improve life quality in the society. Without being prescriptive, this study presents and analyzes essential policy frameworks and practical recommendations to inform national ICTiE policy and actions in Africa. The objective is to sensitize participative policy processes and promote ICT policy initiatives. Such steps will enable countries in the region to exploit the convergence in communication networks for education improvement and management in Africa.

This paper argues that; to realize the full potential of ICT in education; to meet the challenge of secondary education in the region; and to avoid mistakes of the past and ensure the sustainability of several ICTiE projects, African countries need clear policy goals, guidelines and practices. It is further argued that ICTs in education and e-learning objects in general are socio-technical in nature. Hence the success of ICT-mediated learning is not only technical but also political in nature.

The following research questions will guide the study: 1) how can ICTiE policy influence effective application of technologies in educational development in SSA? 2) what policy and regulatory frameworks can facilitate a sustainable integration of technologies in the education system in Africa? This chapter is based on qualitative research methodology. Data was collected through personal interviews and informal conversations. Secondary data sources from government ministries and organizations were used and cross-referenced against information obtained through interviews and conversations. Policy-Network theory (Kennis & Volker, 1991) is used to understand the interactions between ICTiE policy and educational development in Africa.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): Means old and new technologies that are used for accessing, gathering, manipulating and presenting or communicating information. The technologies could include hardware (e.g. radio, television, computers, CD-ROM and other devices); software applications; and connectivity (e.g. access to the Internet, local networking infrastructure, and videoconferencing).

E-Education: Within the context of South Africa, e-Education entails the use of ICTs to accelerate the achievement of national educational goals by connecting learners and teachers together for professional support services (DoE, 2003).

Policy Network: A set of relatively stable relationships, which are of non-hierarchical and interdependent nature linking a variety of actors.

NEPAD: The New Partnership for African Development is a regional organization for social and economic integration and wellbeing of African countries.

E-Learning: “E-Learning is the use of new multimedia technologies and the Internet to improve the quality of learning by facilitating access to resources and services as well as remote exchanges and collaboration” (Europe’s Information Society, 2005). The practice of e-learning is not restricted to a regular school day, it can take place in a variety of locations, including home, school and community locations e.g. libraries, cafes etc (Campbell, 2001)

Institutional Framework: Refers to rules, norms and strategies adopted by individuals operating within or across organizations.

Web 2.0: Second generation web technologies, which can be used to enhance teaching and learning. Examples are blogs and wikis.

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