Technology is an enabler of education, but its fear factors that must be addressed. The Education Ministers of Kenya and Ghana met to discuss how Edtech can promote learning at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.
The Minister of Education for Ghana, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, met onstage with with the Kenyan Minister of Education, Armina Mohamed to talk about how Edtech can enable access to education and promote social and learning impact in a session entitled ‘What can politicians do to accelerate Edtech?’
Mr Prempeh opened the debate, saying that technology was now imperative for learning, but governments have a lot of work to do in order to lessen the “fear factors” of technology.
He said that equipping teachers with technology knowledge, was imperative as in the modern world we increasingly find ourselves in the situation where, technology-wise, the students know more that the teachers. He also discussed fear in terms of cyber bullying, fraud and exposing children to inappropriate information.
Mr Prempah called technology “the great leveller” and praised how it allowed students in rural areas the chance to learn remotely. He did however stress the online learning was not to the standard it should be regarding quality assurance.
He also reiterated that although technology was a great help, it could never replace a human teacher and that is imperative that all those engaging in remote learning have someone to guide and guard them to ensure that they move ahead successfully.
Ms Mohammed said technology was a huge boon considering that the student to teacher ratio was low. She said technology helped strike a balance, but it was important to use the technology already available – and that that technology have set parameters.
She spoke of a programme running in Kenya where students were introduced to tablets from grade one and stressed the importance of using technology to empower students, and make sure they were ready for the 21st century.
The panellists agreed that technology provided a useful platform for discussions and creating dialogue that people might not want to have face to face. In terms of providing technology to poorer areas, both ministers broached the subject of privatising education – or at least some aspects of it to increase the possibilities of this happening. This created an audience debate, which led Mr Prempah to expound on the difference between private companies that operate for profit and those who do not.