Technology as a “Subject” in Schools and Colleges (Go Tech or Go Home)
The world changes each hour we wake up, with Technology driven gadgets, seamless work processes all around us. Lawyers, Doctors, Economists, Teachers, entrepreneurs, School owners are waking up to this reality in Africa.
Technology is not an option but a necessity in our present world, not only in Education but also in Health, Agriculture, Financial services; Logistics and the list go on.
Schools in Africa - (Private or Public in Nigeria) offer ICT Courses where students are theoretically taught identification of computer parts without using one, while other schools are being taught how to use them while learning basic computer application e.g. MS Office suite. This is taught with same content/curriculum and same delivery in existence for over 2 decades.
However, more privately owned schools are taking giant steps by taking technology subjects more serious BUT still as a club (optional) activity mostly focused on Robotics, while Public schools are largely deficient in access to adequate Technology Kits/components for Project Based Learning, Highly skilled Technology Instructors.
The well-known WEF statistics report on the future of Jobs and Skills which states “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist” which I will rather term as worrisome, and 75 per cent of kids in Private and Public Schools in Africa today will end up as follows:
1. Spend time playing “catch up” in their early career
2. Miss all the advantage and opportunities "early access to technology skills" gives
3. Miss the advantage of having options to switch career seamlessly
4. Miss the advantage of being globally competitive
The Schools of Now and the Future
The school of now and the future will be skills and technology driven, from its administrative processes, to content delivery, to learning and Students Skill set. The world is now ruled by skill set now not by certification. Innovative and Technology driven school owners will rise up to this challenge, AI driven classrooms and AI Teachers will rise e.g. Microsoft Math Solver, Differ Chat-bot by Norwegian company Ed-tech Foundry, iTalk2Learn an online learning Platform, all taking the lead. From the perspective of an entrepreneur, I always ask candidates, a simple question during interviews - “what evident skills do you have to help my company grow?” Not what class or CGPA did you graduate with?
What should School owners focus on in 2020 and beyond?
The world has changed and every school owner must wake up and smell the coffee to survive the next decade of competition. Innovation is creativity in forward motion and change has to be Constant. I have listed Nine steps schools can begin to take:
1. Lets change the question of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" to "How do you want to impact the world ?"
2. Activate creativity, a maker’s mind-set in every subject. (Project Based, Hands-on learning)
3. Promote mentor-ship and entrepreneurship programs (Primary school kids are not too young to learn)
4. Put Hybrid systems and structure that encourages both Virtual online learning and physical learning
5. Create compulsory Technology program as a subject to be taken term in, term out, that has all aspects covered (AI, Computer programming, Electronics, Graphics Design, 2D/3D Animation, Mobile App Development , Game Design)
6. Make sure Technology programs are webbed into other subjects (curriculum webbing)
7. Build capacity for your existing teachers and also consider hiring smart and tech driven teachers that know their way around tech tools
8. Engage students in global and local competitions
9. Don’t leave the parents out of the change loop, hold compulsory technology workshops for parents
Latinwo Olugbenga is a Technology/STEM enthusiast and an Entrepreneur. He is also the Co-founder at Steamledge Limited, an Education, Services and Technology company that is building Africa’s largest engineering eco-system with emphasis on innovation for positive impact, high performance and quality