Infrastructure is key to digital transition
Infrastructure is key to digital transition

How telcos can drive digital learning agenda

Technology is increasingly reshaping learning outcomes across all levels of education globally.

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At least the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deficiencies of the traditional educational model and brought into sharp focus the indispensable role of eLearning in education.

All facets of life, including virtual education, remote work, entertainment, essential activities like church services and social events, heavily depend on internet connectivity and data currently.

As the job market continues to evolve, there will be an increased emphasis on teaching skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and digital literacy. As digital literacy becomes increasingly important, schools will continue to integrate technology into their teaching methods.

This could include the use of digital textbooks, and online learning platforms to supplement traditional teaching methods. This could involve the use of adaptive learning software that adjusts to a student’s skill level, providing a more personalised and effective learning experience.

However, all these would have their foundational basis on the telcos, who can zero rate educational materials to give eLearning a push in order to make it more affordable. In return, the government can also give some tax incentives to the telcos. 

Telcos push

For Ghana’s telecom operators, digital learning through the use of AI presents a plethora of opportunities to enhance service delivery, academic excellence, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Again, AI data-driven insights can optimise network performance, predict maintenance needs and personalise customer experiences. Moreover, AI-powered solutions such as digital learning, virtual assistants and predictive analytics can streamline operations and offer innovative services to meet the evolving demands of Ghanaian consumers.

To fully harness the potential of digital learning, the telecom industry must invest in research and development on the needs of our educational institutions by fostering partnerships with tech firms and advocating  policies that support eLearning.

Asantehene sets AI in motion

Already, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has set the ball rolling by donating an AI laboratory to students in Wioso in the Ashanti Region as part of efforts to revolutionise their education.  

This was done in partnership with Newmont Ghana, Coral Reef Innovation Hub and the Otumfuo Osei Tutu ll Foundation to provide a cutting-edge facility that promises to unlock endless possibilities to catapult learners into the forefront of technological innovation.

By creating opportunities for state-of-the-art AI resources, students can explore, create, and excel in the digital age. The AI Lab, aimed at promoting STEM education, is to equip students with essential skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

According to the Managing Partner of Coral Reef Innovation Hub, Richard Anim, the AI Lab is expected to provide students with interests in coding and engineering, opportunities to a limitless world of potential.

“The lab nurtures the next generation of trailblazers and thought leaders”, Mr Anim said. He said in developing countries like Ghana, the integration of technology in education presents a challenge, but also an opportunity to refocus investment, design and deploy solutions for inclusivity.

He said Coral Reef is building digital labs equipped with state-of-the-art technology in educational centres across the country, including Nkoranza, Akropong Salem JHS, Akropong Presby JHS, Kukurantumi RC School, Kyebi State MA School, and Charles Wesley Academy.

“We are also providing training to 1400 public school teachers through our "Teacher 4.0" programme and deploying our solutions to 700 public schools”, he said.
But despite its apparent benefits, Ghana lags behind the digital learning trends.

Connectivity

This is because the digital learning adaptation in a developing world like Ghana is faced with the challenges of Connectivity, Affordability and Relevance (CAR). On internet connectivity, the government has to ensure data sovereignty by maintaining a secure and trusted data environment.

Indeed, the government has an important role to play in laying the foundations for a flourishing data-driven economy by pursuing policies that improve the flow of data to ensure that schools that want to innovate and provide digital learning have access to high-quality and well-maintained data.

Fortunately, Speedtest Global Index, which measures global internet speed, last year, ranked Ghana as number one in Africa and 79th in the world out of 181 countries, with a speed of 53.28 Megabit per second (Mbps).

This means the country’s fixed broadband is the fastest in Africa. The internet connection speeds, both mobile and fixed, provide insight into the quality of digital infrastructure in Ghana.

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In all, there were 23.05 million internet users in Ghana at the start of 2023, with internet penetration standing at 68.2 per cent. Ghana was home to 6.60 million social media users in January 2023, equating to 19.5 per cent of the total population.

A total of 43.88 million cellular mobile connections were active in Ghana in early 2023, equivalent to 129.8 per cent of the total population, paving the way for a smooth digital transition to eLearning.  

The telcos must also drive affordability, because the high device and data costs make digital learning unattainable for underfunded schools and low income families.  This is a drawback to budget-friendly experience to eLearning.

For instance, the average cost of one gigabyte (GB) of mobile internet in Ghana stood at 0.4 U.S. dollars in 2023, according to the global data and business intelligence platform, Statista.

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While the cheapest price an individual could pay to obtain 1GB of mobile data in the country was 0.08 U.S. dollars, the most expensive amount was 0.73 U.S. dollars. This means that Ghana registered one of the lowest mobile data prices in Africa in 2023.

Ghana's emphasis on digitisation stands as a pivotal aspect of the economy, positioning nearly every sector and agency within the digital landscape.

Relevance

The relevance of the digital learning defines what to learn and with the help of technology, teachers will be able to tailor their instruction to meet the individual needs of each student.

Indeed, the telcos can help provides an all-in-one digital learning ecosystem that merges Content, Connectivity, and technology to deliver a dynamic education solution for students in the country.

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The high number of cellular mobile connections indicates a high level of mobile penetration, suggesting that mobile devices are a key access point for digital services including eLearning.

As the country continues to embrace the possibilities of digital learning, it will be fascinating to see how these trends evolve and shape the future of education in Ghana.

One thing is certain: the digital revolution in education is just getting started and the telecom industry has a big role to play in driving this agenda.

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