eLearning Africa, an annual pan-African conference dedicated to examining the potential for using new communications technology to spread educational opportunity, is now in its fourteenth year. This year’s theme is “learnability and employability”. The creative, insightful and action-oriented conference programme covers a range of topics linked to efforts that must be scaled up today in order to create a better future for Africa tomorrow. Africa’s challenges and opportunities are immense. There is clearly no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing them. In this context, eLearning Africa provides a vibrant platform and convening space for cross-cutting and cross-pollinating dialogues on essential themes.
With the majority of Africa’s population millennial and younger, significant time will be dedicated during three days of intensive presentations, workshops, seminars, and ministerial meetings from 23 - 25 October to examining how the Continent’s youth potential can be most effectively harnessed. Young Africans need to be well prepared for the digital disruptions that are already transforming and will continue to transform the future of work in their countries. Which skills must they have to thrive in the digital future? In response to this question, sessions will focus on themes such as digital inclusion and how to make the Fourth Industrial Revolution a reality that benefits Africa. Others will explore how to develop students’ skills and attitudes that foster entrepreneurship, creativity, persistence, and ambition.
Africa needs properly prepared professionals who are digitally literate and can ensure young Africans are provided with the technical and soft skills they need to excel in their careers. With the role of quality teachers critical to the formation of young minds, the programme also focuses on strategies to enhance teaching and learning that are universally relevant, transcend traditional academic disciplines, and support diverse occupational and community needs. In this context, innovative methods that aim to improve teachers’ performance whilst motivating and encouraging them to embrace innovation will be discussed.
Additionally, eLearning Africa 2019 will explore how interactive virtual tools can provide opportunities to practice laboratory techniques and perform authentic workplace tasks online, whilst promoting science education in an attractive and exciting manner. Connectivity, an essential element in the virtual world, is clearly still a major issue in Africa. The programme thus dedicates a session to highlighting solutions that provide affordable access anywhere to internet and offline educational services and content.
Africa has no shortage of entrepreneurs. The challenge for Africa is to move from tackling unemployment to looking at how entrepreneurial activity can add value, employ more young people, and create sustainable livelihoods.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also extremely important for the growth and development of Africa. However, SMEs face many challenges, some of which are related to a lack of appropriate training. This year’s programme therefore also explores initiatives in Africa that aim to provide entrepreneurs with the crucial knowledge and skills they need to grow their businesses and make them sustainable. Discussions will also address how the demand for entrepreneurial training and skills can be met outside traditional channels and investigate efforts to attract both learners and entrepreneurs.
As always, there will be a lively discussion at the “eLearning Africa Debate”. This year, the motion for debate, which is likely to be highly controversial, is “This House believes Governments are failing to provide young people with the skills they need to prepare for the future.”