Conference sneak preview

Africa Gets Sneak Preview of Germany’s New Learning Platform

By Volker Lichtenhäler

Participants at Africa’s top education and technology conference have been given a sneak preview of an innovative eLearning platform, which is set to be launched as part of the German Government’s digital strategy.

At a special event at eLearning Africa, the continent’s leading conference on learning and technology, which was held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from 23 – 25 October, details of the new Atingi platform were provided for the first time.

Atingi will be formally launched in Europe soon and has been developed by the Africa Cloud, which is a global project, involving the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Smart Africa Alliance and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It focusses on reaching young people in rural and remote areas through innovative digital knowledge and learning opportunities. The aim is to improve their employability and income opportunities via demand-oriented, open and freely accessible learning materials.

Atingi will be a major addition to the portfolio of the Africa Cloud, as it seeks to develop a curriculum that focusses on skills development and capacity building in the broadest sense, rather than merely providing formal education. Atingi aspires to become a pan-African eLearning platform and the Africa Cloud team will work alongside African partners to deliver innovative, contextualised and high-quality learning contents.

To further this goal, the Africa Cloud signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Smart Africa Alliance at the ‘Transform Africa’ summit in Kigali. Smart Africa is the digital initiative of the African Union (AU) and its main strategic partner for digital projects in Africa.

Volker Lichtenthäler, a digital learning specialist and the senior project manager for GIZ, said:

“In many African countries, access to learning content and lifelong learning opportunities is restricted. This is particularly true for marginalised groups and young people living in rural areas, as well as girls and women. Existing learning formats often do not reach these parts of the population. So, the Africa Cloud is working on innovative solutions, which use new technologies to increase access to learning contents for these groups. To reach this goal, the Africa Cloud is continuously looking for partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders from the private sector and civil society. It is important that learners are accompanied by local partners or online tutors during the learning process. This is a decisive factor in preventing the drop-out rate known in eLearning.”

Diane Malikane, Smart Africa’s ‘Education for All’ project manager, said that it was “a privilege” for Smart Africa to be involved in supporting both the Africa Cloud and its Atingi project.

“Delivering a high-quality education to every child in Africa remains unfulfilled,” she said, “but technology presents an opportunity for this to be a reality. eLearning has overwhelming potential to improve education systems in African countries and, if implemented well with strategies that focus on overcoming these key challenges, radical transformation of the education system is possible.”

The event was moderated by Rebecca Stromeyer of Berlin-based ICWE GmbH, who is the founder of eLearning Africa and Dr Benjamin Laag of BMZ, who is the Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, also took part.

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