With virus lockdowns, Africa gears up for remote schooling

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by Patrick Fort avec les bureaux africains

The coronavirus may not have hit Africa as badly as other parts of the world but with schools and universities closed because of mass lockdowns across the continent, many children are turning on the television to keep up with their studies.

“Home School”, “Teachers’ Room” and “School on TV” are just some of the distance education programmes that private channels have launched to try to compensate for the closures.

“This is to prevent COVID-19 from winning where it hurts the most, in the area of knowledge,” Massamba Gueye, a teacher-researcher in Senegal, told AFP.

In Senegal, Futurs Medias, owned by the singer Youssou Ndour, gives lessons three times a day to all classes, including vocational education.

“The resumption of school… is no longer on the agenda,” says the General Association of Pupils and Students of Ivory Coast (Ageeci). “The threat of a lost year is probably looming.”

In neighbouring Burkina Faso, Burkinainfo private television broadcasts four times a day for students preparing to take qualifying exams.

“We record the lessons, which we broadcast on television, basically the core subjects — mathematics, physics-chemistry, philosophy and French,” says the channel’s director, Ismael Ouedraogo.

Experienced teachers volunteer to teach the classes, he said.

Formats vary across the continent, with an Ivorian start-up offering courses via text messages. Free at first, it does become a paid service later.

Several private African institutes and universities are exploring distance learning via the internet.

“We plan to finish the school year at the end of May,” said Burkina Faso’s Amed Moussa Diallo, chairman of the board of directors of the African Institute of Management, which has also set up online courses. (AFP)

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