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23 June 2015

Africa's digital learning curve

A combination of innovative tech and the growing reach of mobile communications is powering new opportunities for education in Africa.

Mobile technology is being successfully deployed across Africa as a way to improve the reach and quality of education.

From high-tech mobile classrooms housed in shipping containers, to apps that can help teachers run schools better, mobile connectivity is transforming education on the continent.


Information Communication Technology (ICT) has helped overcome the great distances that separate communities in Africa, and the challenges that geographically dispersed populations present, particularly to educators and learners.

Smartphone adoption on the continent is also growing fast as demand soars for mobile data services. Low-cost devices with advanced capabilities are starting to appear, replacing the more basic feature phones.

The move to mobile is resulting in huge advances in the way schools are administered as well as in how lessons are taught and, ultimately, how learners are educated.


The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), is a good example of how an educational institution can use mobile technology to reduce workload and improve efficiency. The GDE has more than 2 000 schools with more than 2 million learners under its administration. It’s a task made substantially easier by the Vodacom-sponsored GDE mobile education initiative. This allows teachers and managers to use tablets with a specialised app that lets them keep electronic attendance registers as well as deploy, commission and track resources. It can be used for the organisation and distribution of learning materials such as textbooks and makes school management, maintenance and reporting easier too. If a classroom window is broken, for instance, it can be photographed using the tablet and uploaded with a damage report to GDE management.