Background

There are multiple challenges for the Ministry of Education to deliver on its goal of a quality, equitable and appropriate education for all Ethiopian students. Some of these challenges include teacher support and development and resources for education including textbooks and complimentary materials which are complexed by lack of power and other infrastructure.

Identified problems,

More than 80% of the population of the country leave in Rural areas, where there is lack of infrastructure, such as Electricity, accessibility to clean water, School infrastructure, (eg. because of unavailability of high school, in nearest area, More than 64% of high school students are out of school after grade 8th,), absence of internet connection and poor bandwidth , absence of qualified teacher, few reference books in the library; textbooks distribution ratio among students, and printing probles are some of he problem on the ground. 

The plasma video tutorial, which was developed in south Africa, and implemented, in high schools to support the student to have better education through centrally broadcasted asynchronous satellite television program is not giving the desired service because of luck of power, maintenance and training.

These problems become worsen, when we come to pastoralist regions that  constitute 12% populations of the country, where less than 20 % of Afar children will receive primary level education, and significantly less for girls.

Initiatives

The MOE in collaboration with a group of partners have developed an approach addressing many of these problems. All MOE curriculum resources for Secondary and Preparatory Schools (Grades 9-12) including textbooks and recorded video lectures have been digitized in a format allowing local delivery in an internet-like format but without the need for internet connectivity. Selected complimentary digital resources have also been identified and loaded onto servers which collectively serve as a full set of resources for the school. Grade specific textbook and video resources can also be loaded onto tablets for individual student use, replacing the need for hardcopy textbooks. A number of delivery devices for the central server resource have been identified minimizing the need for specialized rooms or enclosures and with minimal power consumption. Overall the system allows for modification of curriculum and resources and rapid dissemination to all schools through non-internet approaches. We believe this overall approach is practical and scalable and addresses some of the key challenges faced by the MOE while exposing Ethiopian teachers, students and their families to the digital approach we all face going forward. We support the ongoing discussions for dissemination of these resources through this approach and plans for development of similar resources for lower grades.

Meeting at the Ministry of Education (MoE) for planning of dissemination of education tools into Secondary Schools with Mulugeta Asefa (Support Education), Mr. Negussie Beyene Belew (Head Minister’s Bureau, MoE) and Dr. Craig Wilson

To solve these problems UAB Sparkman Center, and Support Education (SupEd PLC) have signed an MOU with Ethiopian ministry of Education, 5 years project,  for the development, piloting and implementing the local digital resources which includes curriculum textbooks and video tutorials, and supplementary resources in different digital formats. 

Consultative meeting and workshop on the proposed Solutions ( March 2017)

UAB Sparkman center has fully funded the project including the piloting in two schools in two regions (Amhara and Oromia), Ministry of Education supported in permitting us to have digitalized curriculum educational text books and video tutorials which were used for broadcasting asynchronous Satellite Television program in schools.

SupEd PLC have taken full responsibility for the development the platform, designing , identifying the materials and methods required for the deliverology of the product. The resources were to be delivered in different methods to schools to all area with out depending on the existence of connectivity or fundamental facilities, such as electricity.

Our intervention and solution.

Discussion made with Development partners and educational experts  from MOE. 

To solve this all rounded problem that excludes the majority of students from being competitive both in the employment opportunity and joining the university, we introduced the following solutions to be tested in the field.

  1. We have developed a server platform used to deliver digital educational resource for Ethiopian school curriculum and supplementary materials, for grade 7 to 12. It contains text books and video tutorials organized in grades with  reference digital resource to bridge the digital gap.

  2. A wireless network and wired Network are installed in school compound to interconnect all wireless devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, computer class rooms, and office to the local offline digital resources server.

  3. A tablet full loaded with grade curriculum resources (text books and video tutorials) will be given to students so as to use them anywhere any time without the need for neither Internet connection, nor school LAN. This help the student to have access to the resource while they are out of school or at home.

The products are piloted in two schools of two regions, Oromia and Amhara (Burayou and Chacha, high secondary and preparatory school, respectively), in 2017 and 2018. The outcome of the project is very promising and it changed the student score more better than the previous five years, in both piloting sites.

Student are Using Educational tablet loaded with curricular resources

The assessment made on both sites shows that: –

  • Students were able to use the video tutorials anywhere anytime, and come to class well prepared to get more explanation from their teacher, which makes the class hour more interactive than before.
  • Students and teachers were highly motivated and were seen to browse  resources at their spare time, using their tablets which was distributed to all by this project.
  • There were no problem related to power interruption as they use tablet and the small wattage server which runs on backup battery.
  • Plenty of reference materials, mock exams and educational apps are now available, and interested students have plenty of resource to increase the understanding of their subject matter, develop their skill and lifestyle.