Can Laptops/Tablets and Smart Applications Improve School Performance?
As African countries are slowly curtailing the deficit in enrollments at the basic education levels, the battle for improving the learning outcomes is far from being won. UNESCO’s International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) reported in 2016 that “[n]ational monitoring reports, regional and international assessments confirm significant gaps in learning achievements within and across countries- with large numbers of learners in the early primary grades lacking in foundational reading and mathematics skills, primary level drop-out rates still high across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and many children reaching adolescence without basic numeracy skills”. Among the factors contributing to this worrying trend, the issue of student absenteeism leading to students dropping out ranks very high. Other factors such as unqualified teaching force as well as unavailability of quality learning and teaching materials seem more manageable than absenteeism.
African countries have also embarked on integrating ICT in education to address challenges in access, quality and relevance of education. The introduction of laptops and tablets as learning and teacher management tools is now a reality in many school systems across the continent. However, evidence of the effectiveness of these ICT tools in addressing quality and access concerns is very difficult to come by. But this situation is now changing as data on promising educational innovations in computer applications are trickling in to justify the hope placed in ICTs.