By Kendi Ntwiga, Microsoft’s country’s head, Kenya
Around half of today’s occupations necessitate some kind of digital proficiency. By 2030, that percentage will have risen to 77 percent, thanks to several other new technologies that are transforming not only the types of employment available, but also the skill sets required to thrive in them. The next generation of kids in the MENAP region (Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) will enter a dramatically transformed labor market, according to McKinsey’s August 2021 Opportunity Youth report.
Students nowadays will require more than just a diploma; they will also require digital savvy and real-world abilities that will make them more employable in the future workplace. As a result, educational institutions will need to foster traditional IQ as well as digital literacy and skills, as well as provide learners with the tools they’ll need to independently innovate, create, and collaborate in a global digital economy that demands nimble, resilient mindsets.
During the pandemic, we saw first-hand how ministries of education, Microsoft, and donors like UNESCO, UNICEF, and the Global Partnership for Education worked together to deliver remote learning options. Indeed, the pandemic provided an opportunity for much-needed educational reform. According to a recent YouGov survey commissioned by Microsoft, 82 percent of educators feel that technology has accelerated the pace at which innovation in teaching and learning has occurred in the past year.
While the education sector resorted to technology to facilitate remote learning, the pandemic provided a paradigm shift that goes beyond technology as a mere vehicle for learning delivery. Technology should be considered as a powerful tool for fostering culture; as a method to rethink learning in order to stimulate creative, cognitive thinking, independent invention, and successful collaboration. Education technology should be used not only to facilitate instruction, but also to enhance the learning experience.
Promoting active rather than passive learning is one way that technology might help students in a new remote or hybrid teaching environment become more engaged. The social-emotional components of learning have gotten a lot of attention in the last year, with higher-level cognitive and technical abilities taking precedence alongside more traditional curricula. One example is how a growing number of educators across the region recognize the value of gaming in terms of encouraging active learning, increasing student engagement, and enriching learning. Educators have had great success encouraging cooperation, team building, and leadership principles through platforms such as Microsoft’s Minecraft: Education Edition.
Technology can also assist learners in new ways by providing tools to overcome new problems. Remote learning has caused a loss in reading skills in many nations around the world, a trend that is especially concerning in Africa and the Middle East, where the fight to boost literacy rates has been long and hard fought. Free resources like Reading Progress, on the other hand, will allow pupils to enhance their reading comprehension at their own pace. Teachers can also use the built-in auto-detect tools to swiftly and accurately review assignments. The Education Insights dashboard then gives instructors a comprehensive picture of their students’ progress, including crucial trends like common mispronunciations and omissions.
It’s time to go beyond a hybrid of traditional and online education to something more. With digital engagement, the hybrid approach combines the benefits of in-school and distant learning. It is more than a quick fix to disrupted learning. It’s a strategy to improve and accelerate learning by using student-centered approaches to address the needs of a wide range of students. Technology has long been a key enabler of learning, and it should continue to play a key role in the transition to high-quality learning in a hybrid paradigm. Educators are working quickly to put mechanisms in place to ensure that the advances obtained are sustained through clear educational reform goals. This is the strategy we need to implement across the continent.