Digitally-driven education platforms major to South African youth

Pierre Aurel e4Pierre Aurel is the strategic project manager at e4. (Image source: e4)Digital education is vital to shape the future of young Africans and government should start collaborating with EdTech companies from the private sector to equip the nation with critical skills, according to Pierre Aurel, Strategic Project Manager at e4

“In an era driven and dominated by technology, we are not leveraging the potential of technology to address these issues. Digital content solves not only an access issue but will also power new content that can future-proof our people, while enabling them to succeed,” said Aurel.

South Africa’s ongoing education crisis, specifically access to schooling and learning material has been publicised. Government has responded with subsidy offers, but simply providing financial aid does not solve the crisis that South Africa faces. Compounding the issue is the fact that universities are at capacity, with no new plans to build more facilities.

“Digital education is vital to the country’s future, we cannot succeed by clinging to an outdated and broken educational system. It’s time to adapt and rethink how we share knowledge, learn and teach in the digital era,” Aurel noted. “Technology is almost inseparable from our daily lives. It has changed the world and will continue to evolve. However, the critical skills needed now and well into the future are not being developed and taught, leaving the youth with a challenging and questionable future.”

The World Economic Forum reports that by 2020 there will be more than 1.5mn new digital jobs globally. In a world characterised by technologies that blur the lines between digital, physical and biological, education needs to evolve rapidly to meet the demands for a new type of knowledge worker. “We need a stronger plan to prepare the youth for the digital economy and to play productive roles within the digital revolution,” said Aurel.

“Platforms such as Udemy, Khan Academy and LinkedIn Learning already provide excellent opportunities to further your education. Closer to home, South African EdTech companies like GetSmarter, Obami and Suits and Sneakers University are working to provide modern course content. South Africa needs to look at more collaborative content initiatives and broader access to technology and free Internet access,” he added.

“The possibilities are endless as technology has made learning even more possible. In a country that cannot build new universities to scale with population growth, alternative education formats need to become the default option, with short courses, certifications and online training becoming more common place. Industry recognition of these alternative education options is also important as not every student will want, or be able to, complete a traditional four-year degree.”

What the fourth industrial revolution has to offer is infinite. Students are no longer restricted to desks, textbooks and school programmes. The future student has access to countless videos, podcasts, learning models, apps and digital communities. “All this is possible with access to the Internet and more so if the content is affordable,” said Aurel.

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