Germany Provides New Access to Digital Learning in African Partner Countries

GA lookback at International cooperation between Germany and its partner institutions around Africa shows a long tradition of E-learning cooperation that takes centre stage. Since the inception and establishment of the first innovative Global Campus 21â platform in August 1999, countless projects, joint initiatives and pilots of innovative learning technologies have contributed to the advancement of digital learning. With support from the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) many of today’s African E-learning champions were qualified within the Capacity Building 4 E-learning programs framework and continue to this day, to help shape it.

In an increasingly digitally connected continent, the issue of access continue to be of central importance and leaves many problems unsolved. The Esperanto word Atingi means to ‘achieve something’ and has quite rightfully become the banner of the latest digital learning initiative of German development cooperation in Africa, building on the experience of the last 20 years. The issue of access refers not only to the digital divide between people with and without Internet access but also, the gap between those who are able to recognise valuable digital content, those who can produce digital content, those who have the financial means to act online and those who have no opportunity to do so.

This is particularly true for women and people in rural areas. In this respect, Atingi aims to address the four A’s:

1. Access: Lack of technical access to ICT,

2. Affordability: High cost of access to ICT,

3. Ability: Missing application knowledge / eSkills,

4. Appetite: Lack of adequate content and lack of awareness regarding the added value offered by the Internet.

A principal challenge the Atingi initiative will address is provisioning digital educational opportunities for people in marginalised communities, with an objective of increasing their employment opportunities. To this end, Atingi will focus and utilise its local and regional partners and networks for the open distribution of high-quality digital learning content. In addition, Atingi will employ innovative technologies and services, targeting Africa-wide dissemination of learning opportunities through the development of a Pan-African knowledge and learning platform.

As part of German-African development cooperation, Atingi will create innovative digital knowledge products and learning opportunities that are freely available. The project aims to create better employment opportunities with the help of on-demand and free digital learning solutions, thus becoming an important catalyst for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

At the request of the Atingi team, respective questions were also asked in the present survey of the E-learning Africa Report. Explicitly addressing the issue of access, they had asked: Which of the following factors do you consider is currently most significant in restricting digital access to education and training in Africa? The responses showed that e-Learning actors in Africa were well aware that access was, and continues to be a manifold issue, which cannot be limited to physical Internet access. To assess participant’s recognition of digital literacy and valuable content importance they were asked: How significant do you consider digital technology to be, in improving access to education and training for people in rural areas? Only two people answered that it was not important. Among other responses, the e-Learning Africa report demonstrated a rising awareness among decision makers and e-Learning experts in Africa.

Despite the great strides made in digital availability and accessibility, many questions and challenges remain for the Atingi project in order to achieve its ambitious goals. New and creative solutions need to be found and the Atingi Project aims to be at the forefront, spearheading cutting edge solutions. Keep an eye out for the Atingi Project if you are interested in ICT-supported inclusive education – both formal and informal in Africa.

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