New Media Technologies and Childhood Education for Development Purposes in Africa

New Media Technologies and Childhood Education for Development Purposes in Africa

Silk Ogbu (Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0329-4.ch002

Abstract

Education is the ‘right' of every child and should not be a privilege. As signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC), every country in Africa has a fundamental responsibility in the global commitment towards the provision of childhood education in their respective states. However, the number of children in the continent that are ‘out of school' has risen to the world's highest today. This chapter examines some of the problems encumbering childhood education in Africa, especially in terms of curriculum development, funding, and capacity building and interrogates the effectiveness of current mitigation strategies. It argues that childhood education holds the key to unlocking the potentials of the vast natural and human resources of the continent that are required to catalyze poverty reduction and socio-economic development in the years ahead.
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Introduction

Africa is arguably the least developed continent in the world today. As creativity and innovation continue to spur radical changes in almost every sphere of human endeavor, the fear of a widening gap between Africa and the rest of the world is increasing by the day. Many scholars believe that the key to bridging that gap or accelerating the pace of development of the continent lies in the education of its young and future generations. Education is irrefutably the most potent weapon against poverty and ignorance known to man, and Africa is probably the most endowed continent in terms of natural resources but remains the least developed because of its inability to convert natural resources to tradable goods and services. As the forces of globalization and virtualization continue to contract the world space, academics and professionals are searching for ways to reposition Africa for greater competitiveness in a rapidly changing world. In spite of divergent views about the end, there is increasing coalescence on the need to focus on the effective education of the African child as the fastest track to socio-economic transformation of the continent.

Without a doubt, advances in media and communication technologies offer new possibilities for childhood education that many African countries are yet to tap into because of several reasons. The first is the political will to craft a policy on education that will break the colonial heritage- a system of education that was based on ethnocentric assumptions and designed to compel Africans to conform to western ideals. A new policy on childhood education, anchored upon the emerging trends in pedagogy and leveraging on new media technologies, is required to propel Africa towards aggressive growth.

Apart from the lack of a policy direction in curriculum development, another constraint to childhood education in Africa today is the paucity of funding on the part of governments and the private sector for early education across the continent. In other parts of the world, childhood education is better funded and supported by stakeholders, especially as the increasing use of media technologies continues to introduce new cost implications into the delivery process. Important cost dimensions include the provision of suitable infrastructure, the procurement of necessary facilities and the expansion of access to digitized protocols of instructional delivery.

Besides, inadequate funding of childhood education, perhaps the most important hindrance to the application of tools to childhood education in Africa is the dearth of competent teachers that are sufficiently trained to use new media technologies in the classroom. At the moment, early education teachers in Africa are among the least qualified and remunerated in the world. There is, therefore, little or no incentive for well-trained teachers to accept such jobs in many countries across the continent. In Nigeria, for example, it was shocking to discover recently that over 25,000 primary school teachers in Kano State were unable to pass an aptitude test designed for their students (Daily Post, 2018). Without competent teachers, it will be impossible to explore the media landscape as a pathway for improving or benchmarking Africa’s childhood education against the rest of the world.

This chapter explores the issues surrounding the adoption of media technology in childhood education in Africa, particularly in terms of how they address the rights of the child. In pursuance of that goal, however, the chapter focuses mainly on the three areas of concern highlighted above: curriculum development; improved funding and accelerated training of teachers. The arguments put forward in this chapter are anchored upon the postulations of the Technological Determinism and Cognitive Development Theories. Essentially, the chapter adopts a conceptual approach, drawing evidence to support analytical perspectives from secondary sources of data.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Immigrants: Individuals who were born before the spread of digital technology and were not exposed to them in their early ages. Generally, people who were born prior to 1985 are considered to be digital immigrants.

Digital Generation: A generation of people born in the digital era that has grown up with access to digital information and the abilities to navigate the new communication technologies.

New Media Technologies: A generic term used to describe all forms of computer-based or web-related communication technology characterized by creative participation and interactive user interface such as mobile phones, blogs, wikis, video games, social networking sites, virtual worlds, etc.

Curriculum: A deliberately designed document detailing the academic content of a particular course or educational program.

Media Convergence: The merging of distinct media technologies including old and new media into digitized formats that can be accessed using portable devices such as smartphones, computers, tablets, smart televisions, etc.

Childhood Education: All kinds of educational programs and strategies designed for the training of children from birth up to 8 years of age.

Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC): A United Nation's human rights treaty that seeks to uphold and protect the rights of a child (defined as any person under the age of 18). The treaty came into force on the 2nd of September 1990. Currently, 196 countries, compromising all members of the UN are parties, with the exception of the United States of America.

Media: A broad term used to describe various channels of communication, including the traditional and digital communication platforms.

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