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Development 8 May 2017

African Regional Internet & Development Dialogue Tackles the World of Education

Dawit Bekele
By Dawit BekeleRegional Vice President - Africa

Dates 8-9 May, Kigali, Rwanda

The first ever African Regional Internet Development Dialogue (RIDD) was launched in Rwanda, Kigali on the 8 of May 2017, placing SDG 4 on Education at the center of the conversation of the first day of the meeting. Delegates had an opportunity to explore how the Internet can provide quick wins for education, but most importantly come up with real solutions that can be implemented immediately.

For Africa a skilled workforce that utilizes ICTs effectively is a key factor in determining its competitiveness in the global digital economy and fully exploiting its potential for sustainable growth. It is the basis for social and economic development, and the foundation of an Internet for everyone.

But Sub Saharan Africa faces considerable challenges in education, ranging from the absence of quality teachers, outdated or unavailable learning and teaching materials, to inadequate physical space (school infrastructure) for fast-growing learners.

Over 110 million school children between 6-18 years of age are out of school in Africa. Thirty-seven million young people require technical and vocational training and/or other forms of education that facilitate paths to their employment. Only about 6 percent of secondary school graduates find places in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa

The African RIDD is a collaborative initiative of the Internet Society, UNESCO and the Rwandan Government. The dialogue is meant to create a space for multiple stakeholders from across Africa to discuss various opportunities and requirements for entrepreneurship and innovation on the Internet for the socio-economic development of the continent. This high-level meeting is a gathering of technologists, policy makers, Internet players, and Internet Society chapters fellows from all regions of Africa, gathered to discuss actionable recommendations of how Africa can leverage Internet in addressing education and the Internet economy.

The Sustainable Development Goal for Education (SDG4) commits countries to addressing challenges and attaining universal pre-primary, primary, and secondary education and gender equity, and promoting youth learning for employability. Such commitments require innovative approaches that go beyond simply building more educational institutions. It involves using educational technology in various ways. As emphasized by Dr. Indrajit Banerjee Director, Knowledge Societies Division, UNESCO ”without the Internet, the traditional way will take a century”.

But the challenge is multifaceted and will require collective effort from multiple stakeholders each bringing their competences. Hon Jean Philbert Nsengimana the Rwandan Minister of Youth and ICT emphasized the need for collective effort and committed government.

The day concluded with key recommendations from participants ranging from improving infrastructure to incorporation of ICT into education policy. Importance was placed on the need to have a regional common vision and strategy in the addressing challenges in the education sector. More on the African Internet economy shall be discussed in day two.

Follow the event remotely.


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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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