Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Policy Networks and the Transformation of Secondary Education through ICTs in Africa: The Prospects and Challenges of the NEPAD E-Schools Initiative

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Policy Networks and the Transformation of Secondary Education through ICTs in Africa: The Prospects and Challenges of the NEPAD E-Schools Initiative

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Using the policy network theoretical framework, this paper examines the prospects and challenges of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) e-schools initiative. Based on qualitative research approach, this study aims to critically evaluate the prospects and challenges facing the e-schools collaborative initiatives under the auspices of the NEPAD. Secondary education system is the most strategic education sector and unfortunately the least developed and the least available in Africa. With the vision of changing teaching and learning paradigms in Africa, the e-schools initiative aims to tackle the problems of secondary education in the region through the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs). However, a successful exploitation of the potential of ICTs for the enhancement of secondary education depends more on pedagogical and inter-organizational strategies than ICT issues. While secondary education is the domain of interest, e-school projects are premised on collaborative partnerships, alliances and consortia of corporate and governmental bodies. The projects have many prospects and challenges that must be resolved to ensure its sustainability. It is argued that a responsive ICT in education policy in each country is key to the success of e-school projects across Africa. At the organizational level, the study argues that sustained technology intervention is based more on the resolve of the partner members, especially the political will of African governments. Besides, the e-school initiative stands to gain from the experience of developing countries that have successfully integrated ICTs in education through collaborative strategies.

Keywords: Information and communication technologies; e-school; secondary education; policy network; collaborative partnerships; Africa

INTRODUCTION

Improved secondary education is fundamental to the creation of effective human capital in any country. In an effort to eradicate poverty and ensure sustainable socio-economic development in Africa, the newly formed New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) recognizes that a key issue is the development of human resources in the region. The crisis facing human resource development in Africa is clearly manifested in the secondary education sub-sector in forms of limited access and poor quality. The World Bank (2005) describes secondary education as the crucial link between primary schooling, tertiary education, and the labor market. As the World Bank (2005) notes, the task confronting education policymakers in Africa is to transform secondary education institutions and current schooling practices to align them with the fast growing demands of globalization and the technology-driven world. Thus, the main focus of the education policy process in Africa is to address the twin challenges of increasing access to, and improving quality and relevance of secondary education for all young people in the region. This underscores the imperative to transform teaching and leaning in primary and secondary schools in African countries. This is what the NEPAD e-school projects wants to accomplish with a new paradigm of educational curriculum delivery. This new and integrated strategy for socio-economic development in Africa paves a new way for the improvement in quality and expansion of access to public education in the region. The NEPAD e-school projects aims to equip secondary schools (and later primary schools) in Africa with information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enable educational transformation to meet the demands of the 21st Century. In the long-run, modern communication technologies are expected to be widely deployed for teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools across Africa. This broad-based technology- enhanced education will be implemented through a collaborative partnership system in African countries.

The pilot phase of this e-learning initiative is currently being implemented in selected African countries. …

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