“Africa is in a much stronger position today than it was a decade ago but, in many ways, it is still divided,” says conference organiser Rebecca Stromeyer. “If it can unite, it can win the prize of long-term, sustainable growth. Technology is opening up huge new opportunities. The African Union has set out a plan for the transformation of the whole continent. Technology and education are at the heart of it. Breaking down barriers to trade, investment and growth is also crucial. So the theme of this year’s conference – Uniting Africa – is really all about how we can bring Africans closer together to share knowledge and gain the skills to make the most of all the future has to offer this great continent.
“I’m delighted that Dr Ramphele is going to be joining us in Kigali. She is someone who played an important role in the struggle to free South Africa from apartheid. In her career, she has scaled the heights of achievement and she is a real inspiration to women everywhere. She is an academic who understands the transformative power of education and a businesswoman who knows all about the importance to African economies of a skilled workforce. She and all our other keynote speakers and presenters will be looking at how greater unity, bridging the economic, physical and digital divides that set us apart, can open up a new era of boundless opportunity for Africans.”
Ms Stromeyer, who is organising her thirteenth eLearning Africa conference, also revealed that, for the first time, this year’s conference will include several sector-specific ‘tracks’, allowing specialists and practitioners to focus in detail on issues affecting particular professions, economic sectors and parts of the economy. Each track will examine how information and communication technologies can boost education and training, develop skills and help to increase productivity.
Ms Stromeyer confirmed that eLearning Africa 2018 will include:
- A health track, which will focus on training for health professionals and improvements in the delivery of services
- An academic track, which will look at how technology can improve both study and research at Africa’s colleges and universities
- A track for teachers, with practical and interactive sessions, which will enable participants both to learn from the experience of others and to consider how technology can enhance their performance
- An ‘empowerment’ track, which will concentrate on how new skills and opportunities can transform the prospects of some of Africa’s most marginalised communities
- A workplace learning track, which will consider how ICTs can best be used to improve both on-the-job training and employability.
- A TVET track that will focus on the acquisition of employable skills for the labour market
- An ‘edTech’ track, which will examine recent developments and new opportunities in Africa’s rapidly growing education technology sector, paying particular attention to the effect of new technology hubs and start-ups on the job market
Ms Stromeyer said that other sector-specific tracks, which will focus on agriculture, financial services and security, will be announced during the course of the next few weeks.
The crowded conference programme of over 75 discussions, debates and sessions will highlight several important issues, including improving education for refugees, new strategies for higher education, youth employability, the use of gamification and virtual reality, and naturally, increasing internet access.
There will also be some interesting discussions about digital literacy, with participants set to be asked to consider whether investing in teachers’ digital skills leads to significant improvements in the quality of education. Reading and numeracy will also be addressed and there will be a special focus on adults as well as. A major aim of the UN SDGs is to ensure that "no-one is left behind." Come and hear how we can make it happen.
Another major theme will be the use of mobile phones, with a particular focus on three sectors: health, schools and higher education.
eLearning Africa is held in a different African city every year and attended by over 1,000 participants from all over the world, representing a wide range of institutions, businesses, organisations and governments. Leading organisations, which have already confirmed their attendance at this year’s event include AfDB, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR, BMZ, USAID, GAGE, GIZ, the Mastercard Foundation, the World Literacy Foundation, the Wellspring Foundation, the Aga Khan Foundation and the World Bank.
The conference will also be accompanied by a ministerial round table and a major exhibition. At the latter, companies and institutions will showcase new products, services and courses. The ministerial round table, a day-long event on the opening day of the conference, will be attended by education, ICT and economic development ministers from all over Africa.