Cost a major hindrance in education modernisation

Enchanting technologies are always cropping up as IT giants like Apple and Samsung take intellectual battles to the pinnacle of necessary bottleneck competition. New and newer innovations leave tongues wagging over what would be next.

Enchanting technologies are always cropping up as IT giants like Apple and Samsung take intellectual battles to the pinnacle of necessary bottleneck competition. New and newer innovations leave tongues wagging over what would be next.

As the giants battle it out, the consumers look forward to squeezing more and more from the technological spiral, but at what cost?

The question that most of us who are advocates of modernising education delivery often leave out the cost and training implications that come with these innovations.

Sometimes back I wrote an article in this column about the bewildering interactive smart boards and their astounding features. I advocated for the quick adoption and usage of these boards oblivious of the cost and training demands that come with them.

 A reader of this column while appreciating the need to embrace the new teaching technologies reminded me that cost remains a big deterrent in the realisation of this grand dream that is nothing more than castles in the air for many developing countries.

One smart board costs around $2000 in the US. Getting it to a classroom in a Kigali school is another thing all together. Can you demolish a chalk black wall for $2000 smart board? The answer largely depends on one’s financial muscle.

Governments struggling to up the standards of education may find it a hard nut to crush if they are to choose between funding the putting in place basic of educational infrastructure and modernising the classroom delivery and learning.

While there is will to be at par with the contemporary trends in education, scanty resources pose a major challenge to many developing economies.

The rising costs of living always triggers calls for higher salaries by the teachers whose numbers have also gone through the roof with the phenomenon of free basic education further throwing a spanner into the works.

The paradox is that development is mainly weighed on the scale of a country’s technological innovation, development and use that poor economies cannot afford in full scale, leave alone being constantly at par with the developed countries.

While many schools here in Africa are struggling to put in place modern computer labs and libraries with the latest reading materials as they struggle to clean up the shelves of all the 1972 Encyclopedia Britannica or even older literature, in some schools in the US each student now has an iPad offering so many books just a swipe motion away.

The Kindle reader from Amazon is literally a whole library in your hands. Computer labs and their network woes are slowly phasing out in the developed world at a time when establishment in all our familiar environments is on the upward trend.

Training of the teaching staff to be able to use technology is another element that has high cost implications.

Way forward

We need the technology but at a cost? Are we going to rescind and retract into hopelessness and fate? Can we compete globally without being technologically up to date? Are the technology receptive and addictive youth likely to find class motivating, challenging and engaging enough if the classroom is not modernised?

A friend of mine in the US reminded me that on Wednesday last week, USA celebrated its 237th birthday. Most countries in EAC bloc celebrated a paltry 50 years of independence last year and this year. We only need leadership, the right one for that matter, to get there and beyond. The struggle continues.

 

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