27.10.2014

In Africa, smartphones and tablets are real alternatives to text books

In Africa, smartphones and tablets are real alternatives to text books

Image | Afritorial

In the more developed countries there are many projects which use tablets as learning tools and to a large extent as substitutes for textbooks . A criticism of this is that many families can’t afford to buy new tablets and computers, however the reality in Africa may be surprising. In fact the paperless class may make more sense in disadvantaged regions.

You might think that these are expensive devices, but they actually represent a saving over the cost of traditional textbooks. It is not surprising therefore that there are several initiatives to bring the tablets to schools in Africa . This is already happening on the African continent.

Tablets for African schools

In South Africa, one of the countries with the best prospects in the region, the average family spends 1.800 Rands per year on textbooks, almost 130 euros or 164 US dollars; an excessive amount for income often below 4,000 euros per year. If we bear in mind that other countries in the area have among the lowest disposable incomes in the world, it is easy to understand why price is a determining factor and why these mobile devices have been considered as an alternative from the outset.

A low-end tablet costs about 100 euros and a high quality one with a 10-inch screen a little less than 200 euros. This means that in one school year the investment could be paid off on something that can be used way beyond mere school work ; it is a window on the world. This fact has convinced the government of the Ivory Coast, which has agreed to provide 5,000 </ a> tablets dedicated primarily to education in public schools. These will be developed by Qelasy a promising start up project led by Thierry N’Doufou that could reach more countries.

Beyond hardware: services

In Africa, smartphones and tablets are real alternatives to text books

Image | One Laptop per Child

They also have other advantages in addition to the savings offered. Some of these are cited by the self-same World Bank : tablets can be rented for a certain time (reducing cost) by establishing a subscription package during school years that could include other services (Internet access, book packs etc .. .) to reduce the final cost. It would also allow one-stop access to different content, such as e-learning platforms and even to non-curricular but definitely educational material. Did someone mention languages? News updates? Cultural exchanges?

Exactly this type of service has been set up by Kytabu , a Kenyan startup that lets people rent books through low cost tablets for periods ranging from one hour up to one year for a price below 10 euros. According to their website, the digital textbooks are stored on the device so you do not need a permanent Internet connection to access them.

The digital revolution is creating many projects like these, helping to bring technology and education to the poorest places. Hopefully, we will see many more in the coming years.

The mSchools programme is a multi-faceted mEducation initiative by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, in collaboration with The Generalitat of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall and GSMA.

Launched in 2013, mSchools supports students and teachers effectively integrating mobile technologies into the classroom. Mobile enables access to up-to-date materials, improves collaboration and strengthens learner engagement, opening up new ways of teaching and learning that improve achievement and employability.

The mSchools programme brings together private and public institutions to help students build important new skills and prepare them for today’s digital world.

Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.

Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.

MWCapital offers an open platform and exhibition showroom where citizens can understand and experience how mobile is enhancing our lives: The Mobile World Centre, located in the heart of Barcelona on Plaza Catalunya.

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