A lack of support, training and confidence in using ICT in the classrooms are hindering the growth of elearning in African education, says a majority of teachers on the continent, according to the eLearning Africa Report 2015.

eLearning Africa is an annual conference which gathers educators and professionals to discuss ICT in education and enhance their knowledge, expertise and abilities.

At the end of each conference, a report is released to reflect on the state of eLearning in Africa in the past year and throw forward to its future.

The recently released 2015 report contained a survey conducted with 1050 African respondents in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, of which a majority were teachers in primary, secondary and higher education.

When asked whether or not there was enough support and to develop digital literacy from government and the private sector, 74% of teachers said no and 75% said they have taken online courses or taught themselves skills using open-source online resources.

In South Africa particularly, only 57% of teachers said government was offering enough digital literacy support.

A closer look at training in institutions revealed that 68% of teachers in higher education said they had received some form of formal ICT educational training compared to 58% in secondary and 33% in primary education.

Teachers also said little awareness of the benefits of ICT in the classroom and confidence in utilising such tools lead to a reluctance in embracing technology.

“We need to do something about the teachers who don’t want to go online; who are afraid of technology,” says Dr Speranza Ndege, senior lecturer at Kenyatta University (KU) in Nairobi. “Sometimes things don’t work or the internet is slow, or when the classes are big they think they are spending too much time online.”

Affordability of internet services, equipment, poor connectivity and low bandwidth were also listed as among the among the main barriers preventing widespread use of ICT in education. Only 54% of teachers in urban areas said there is adequate ICT infrastructure in their school, while only 37% of rural teachers could state the same.

When it came to equipment and tools used in classrooms, respondents said they used overhead projectors and laptops (22%) the most, followed by desktops computers (11%), smartphones and tablets (7%), online videos (6%), social media (5%) and lastly, TV and mobile apps (3%).

Content for lessons and activities are mainly sourced from online open-source tools, according 77% of respondents, while 16% said they get it from a particular program running the implementation of ICT in their school and 13% said they get it from the school itself.

“This is due, in part, to the collaborative approach to content creation – one that allows both teachers and students to customise eLearning tools and re- sources to suit their needs better,” the report states.

“The key to the successful integration of ICT in education and training relies on a solid framework, which includes government commitment to improving ICT infrastructure and investing in schools’ ICT plans – both in rural and urban areas,” according to eLearning Africa.

“Already countries are investing in ICTs but we are looking at the acceleration. For me, that’s going to be the challenge; sticking to those commitments is going to be key,” added Dr Aida Opoku-Mensah from the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

You can download and read the full eLearning Africa 2015 report on the eLearning Africa website.

[Source – eLearning Africa]