The initiative was taken to solve the problem related to digital gap of education in Ethiopia, because of the presence of connection and fundamental facilities in the school or not. The problem on the ground shows that, the delivery of text books and reference materials to schools delays three to six months in most areas, and students are obliged to stay with out textbooks for a semester or more. School libraries in majority of the schools are either outdated or few copies that student can not have access to them as they need it. This problem enhanced by large in rural areas, where there is no reference materials in the library or no service at all.
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.
Problem in Ethiopia
More than 80% of the population of the country leave in Rural areas, where there is lack of infrastructure, such as Electricity, High school in nearest distance (64% of high school students are out of school after grade 8th, because there is no high school in reachable distance). No /or expensive internet connection or poor bandwidth to access reference materials, Luck of qualified teacher, no or few reference books in the library; hard copy textbooks given one to many, or not reach in time because of the time it takes to print abroad, imported and distributed every year.
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, was not functional in most schools because of availability of electricity, maintenance, and luck of interest to use them by student because of such interruption and inconvenience luck of proper usage. The report shows that only 34 % of plasma televisions are functional schools where it is implemented.
Our intervention and solution.
Student are Using Educational tablet loaded with curricular resources
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.