By Albert Kure

Education has evolved in almost partitioned stages; from the earliest non-formal, home or family-based instruction to non-formal craft-based education under the guidance of a mentor, and subsequently to formally structured education in brick-walled locations as obtainable today. On close analysis, these transitional stages can be observed in the form of slight increments in learner’s size as well as the unification of learning aims, methods, and evaluation techniques.

Today, penetration and subsequent utilisation of technology in transitioning education albeit slow have sparked dual sided debates over its application being beneficial as learning and instruction tools or detrimental serving as distractions from educational activities.

The Education shift of the 21st century was heralded by the incorporation of technology into education. It brings to bear changes the system undergoes over time where certain features are removed, added or modified to suit the existing demands of the society, as well as the individuals undergoing instruction. To this end, the ever-changing multi-faceted global Educational System can be viewed from several perspectives but with a common fact, that necessitates the use of technology as a suitable medium of exploring wide areas of knowledge more so today in Africa as a continent.

Currently, Africa is host to the largest population of young people in the world with about 60% of its population under the age of 30 and 72% of its labour force in “vulnerable” employment resulting in a myriad of present economic challenges and fear for many more future issues when a projected 1 billion youth is anticipated in the continent by 2050. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution heavily concerned to the internet of things (IoT) and mobile-based solutions provides a lifeline to this young, eager, ever-growing and tech-savvy population. Given their sheer numbers, fresh perspectives, global mindsets, and penchant for connecting and collaborating across sectors and geographic locations, African youth have the ability to transform their lives, regions, and environment, whether in Agriculture, energy, infrastructure, medicine and beyond, using innovative solutions derived from the application of proper education and training that transcends the theoretical knowledge most formal schools in Africa provide.

Training the youth of today to be not just the workforce for tomorrow but the economic powerhouse driving African development begins from the encouragement of education beyond rote-memorisation, and toward outside the box thinking, with a problem-solving approach for research and development of innovative solutions in the form of ideas, products, and processes that can tackle local problems. This will shift Africa leaps toward the actualisation of the SDGs through proper education while facilitating active partnerships for continental development. 

Whether as a friend or foe, the importance of internet/computer-assisted learning in Africa of today and in the future cannot be overemphasized. In 2016, over 20,000 young people around the world registered to take the edx course “Introduction to Nutrition: Food for Health”, a figure greater than the entire student population of some traditional tertiary institutions in Africa.  

Hence, futuristic projections of the anticipated state and endless possibilities abounding for African youth in the globalised educational system of today will take a form that provides actual learning opportunities in a virtually structured setting; solution-inclined learning that is and will continually be comprehensive in approach, multidisciplinary in scope and global in perspective driving collective development.