Mastercard Foundation in partnership with MEST Africa organised a forum to advance Educational Technology (EdTech) innovations.
EdTech involves the use of technological tools to facilitate teaching and learning.
The two- day event themed ‘advancing edtech: a forum for innovation’, brought together policy makers, stakeholders, non-governmental organisations, learners as well as EdTech startups and stakeholders within the educational ecosystem to deliberate, discuss and suggest possible solutions in shaping and improving upon the state of education in the country using local based EdTech solutions.
The Minister for Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum(MP), speaking at the event held in Accra, highlighted the increasing number of reading outcomes recorded recently as against 2015.
He elaborated on the achievement, saying the two percent reading outcome in 2015 has now jumped to 38 percent. He, however, indicated that about 62 percent still cannot read, hence the need to do more.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Practical Education Network (PEN) Heather Beem, for her part, stated that there is the need for teachers to capitalise on local based materials to make teaching very practical and attractive to students.
Responding to how EdTech solutions can be leveraged to improve the quality of education in the country, she narrated how her outfit used google classroom, zoom platform and other instructional videos to help teachers perform assigned activities, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While she emphasised on the impact of EdTech solutions in reforming the educational sector, she urged that “technology should be seen as just a tool and not a solution”.
For his part, President of the National Graduate Association of Teachers ( NAGRAT), Angel Carbonu, stated that the focus of the forum is an indication that the educational space is gradually welcoming technological innovations and that there is the need for teachers to equip themselves with the needed technology to be able to impart knowledge efficiently and effectively in the modern world.
Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of ViztaEdu, Akweley Abena Okai, lamented about the unavailability of funds for start-ups to scale up and the adoption of foreign based EdTech solutions as against local ones.
“As a country, we are always looking at how we can implement the innovations of other countries in our context despite the numerous innovations being made by local EdTech startups. The main challenge has been the lack of funds and absence of a platform to show case the innovations at our disposal,” she bemoaned.
Similarly, the Executive Director and Lead Consultant at Tech Era, Derrick Omari, noted that innovations for children with special needs do not get the support they deserve, as a result he said about 20 innovations by his outfit are left on the shelve.
The Lead for the Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT at Mastercard Foundation, Suraj Shah, said the forum aimed at creating a platform for the government and stakeholders to discuss issues in the educational sector and also give room to EdTech start-ups to develop solutions to deal with the challenges faced by practitioners in the sector.
“I think it is time to bring the conversation from the airwaves to a room for people to discuss, government to participate and see what the EdTech community is doing. We also want to communicate challenges and how the EdTech community can help solve those challenges with local grown solutions,” he explained.
He lauded Mastercard Foundation and MEST Africa for the initiative.