In 2021, the University of Makerere will celebrate its 100 years anniversary, opening up an opportunity to re-imagine the future of education for Africa in the context of the global pandemic, especially through the lens of digitalisation.
While the pandemic has forced much of the world to adopt online course systems, some countries are still lagging behind, particularly on the African continent. Lack of connectivity, lack of resources, lack of training: digital education remains largely unaccessible to primary and secondary schools, but also in universities. Many African schools and students were ill-prepared for this switch to e-learning. Amid widespread challenges like infrastructure deficit, unstable electricity supply, lack of digital skills among teaching personnel and students, and soaring data costs, the most vulnerable students are hit the hardest.
The questions arising are therefore: What are the lessons learned from the pandemic? What are the new needs and challenges the education sector worldwide is facing? Will the digitalization of the education sector play a role as an international equalizer or will it lead to more education divide? Will it allow an internalization or even a homogenization of learning and knowledge or have to adapt to local contexts? Who will set the tone and the standards when re-imagining higher education at a global level? And how can the African continent harness these changes to close gaps in access to higher education and skilling?