Covid-19 and EdTech in Africa

A Country-Level Review Based on eLearning Africa Data

Executive summary

The school closures as a result of Covid-19 have led to major disruption of education for millions of children in Africa and across the globe. Among the strategies for responding to this problem has been the use of educational technologies to support distance learning, from primary to tertiary level. 

eLearning Africa and EdTech Hub wanted to understand the perspectives of those working in education and technology across Africa, to gain insights into how they view the pandemic and the place of technology in helping to overcome challenges in education. A survey was conducted with over 1600 responses from 52 African countries, and the findings were published in September 2020 in this report. The report provided valuable learning from across the continent and was widely cited in international media. 

This follow-on report builds on the original, providing detailed country-specific and thematic analyses on noteworthy trends. The country-specific analyses focus on the 13 countries where most survey respondents worked. The ten key findings from the additional analysis presented in this report are that, at the point of data collection:

  1. The perceived effectiveness of governments’ distance learning strategies was much greater in countries where educational institutions worked to involve parents in planning new arrangements for their children’s education during the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  2. Students from rural communities and students from low-income households are considered to be the most educationally disadvantaged by the pandemic. Primary-level education is considered to be the most disadvantaged by the pandemic.
  3. More than three-quarters of education and technology professionals think that the move to online learning increases inequality and disadvantages poorer and more marginalised students.
  4. In 12 of the 13 countries, at least three-quarters of respondents considered that the use of technology in education will become more widespread as a result of Covid-19. However, the DRC was the exception, where only 40% of respondents thought it would become more widespread. 
  5. Rwanda is the country where those working in education and technology are most likely to report that they have received clear guidance from the government regarding how to use EdTech during the pandemic. 
  6. When asked what devices are most important for replacing face-to-face learning during the pandemic, most respondents working in the DRC said radio (31.4%) followed by laptop (20%). Those in Rwanda said laptops (32.6%) followed by smartphones (20.9%), and those in Cameroon said smartphones (38.2%), followed by television (20.6%).
  7. The countries where the highest proportion of participants reported that the government was likely to take teachers’ views into account were Ghana (65.6%), Rwanda (64.6%), and Ethiopia (60.4%). The countries with the lowest reported proportion of participants who reported that the government took into account teachers’ views were the DRC (24.4%) and Nigeria (24.8%).
  8. In the DRC, the education and technology community considers paper-based materials to be the most important way to sustain distance education at both primary and secondary levels.
  9. Respondents from countries with higher proportions of rural populations were more likely to consider their governments’ Covid-19 distance learning strategy to be ineffective. 
  10. Respondents from countries with smaller populations were more likely to be satisfied with their governments’ action in minimising the impact of Covid-19 on education. 

It is clear that countries across Africa have faced a wide range of challenges and adopted different strategies for using technology to help sustain education during Covid-19 school closures. There is no universally applicable strategy for all countries. It is hoped that this report provides a useful resource for those engaged in ongoing decision-making regarding effective education policies in the context of Covid-19, highlighting noteworthy trends and synthesising the perceptions of education and technology professionals working across the continent.

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