The last day of the ZICTA ICT Business Forum was short, and we only got to listen to a talk on “Enhancing education through ICTs” which aimed to discuss the issue of inadequate computer skills training in schools.
The panel included Mrs. Gertrude Akapelwa (Ehueni Vice-Chancellor – Victoria Falls University of Technology), Mr. Bwalya Mumbi (Accounts Manager, Westcon Zambia, CISCO official distributor Zambia), Dr. Chiyaba Njovu (Principle Lecturer in ICTS, Zambia Chartered Accountancy School), Mr Miyanda Mulambo (General Manager at iSchool Zambia), Mr Sipa Sikaulu (Business Development Executive at Trushield Security Solutions Incorporated).
Mrs. Akapelwa gave the first presentation, saying schools like hers which deal in higher education are trying to include ICTs in education, but that for it to work in any other school teachers need to understand that students have different paces in understanding lessons.
She said if ICTs in schools have to be effective they have to be simple to grasp by every student and trainers too. curriculums also have to be updated to match the updated ICT infrastructure. She said it’s a problem when there is updated ICT infrastructure but no digital content to teach.
She added that internet service providers can also come into play in this area as the cost of broadband is too high for some schools to access. She also stated that some faculties may only have basic knowledge about the software they use, but not enough to explain it, and complained that there is no enough external support locally for that software.
Mrs Akapelwa ended by saying most universities have a policy to include ICTs in their teaching, but that very few implemented this.
Mr. Njovu was next up, saying ‘At the heart of using ICTs in education is the creativity of the teachers themselves to enhance teaching goals.’
He said teaching has evolved from chalk and board to powerpoint presentations. It’s easier to share materials even remotely with the help of online social networks, making it easy to give online assessments for students’ work and give immediate feedback.
Mr. Sikaulu stressed the need to start teaching ICTs to very young children as young as kindergarten level as they grasp lessons much easier. He said Governement, academia, businesses and the private sector, and citizens all need to come together to promote ICT skills training.
Government’s role would be to provide cyber security, the private sector to provide some infrastructure, academia to teach ICT skills, and citizens to stay updated with what’s going on around them.
He also advised users of any ICT tools to always stop, think, click, to prevent malware that ruins system, defeating the entire purpose.
Adding to the comment on ICTS being taught early in children, Mr Mulambo said iSchool believes that in all ICTs, content is king. iSchools developed the ZEduPad, a learning tablet that kids can use.
It has all 5000 modules in the Zambian curriculum and can be translated into the 7 local languages. He said its battery lasts a whole school day, and can also be charged with a solar charger so it’s a great device even for rural areas where electricity supply may be little or non-existent.
Mr Mumbi ended the discussion stating how ICT infrastructure for education has to be upgraded in Zambia. Internet access should also be increased in schools because some do not have any access even if the students have their own devices.
He added that CISCO has an education policy and believes that in the next 5 years, the education delivery system will change more than it has in the last 30years.
Those were 3 very insightful days on the state of ICTs n Zambia. If you missed the day 1 and 2 recaps, you can do so here and here respectively. We’re looking forward to next year’s forum and that there will be so much more change that the discussions will focus more on what has been done that what is yet to be.