Transforming educational practices of Ethiopia into development and the knowledge society through information and communication technology

Birhanu Moges Alemu

African Educational Research Journal
Published: January 3 2017
Volume 5, Issue 1
Pages 1-17


Despite the improvements in the access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT) around the world, there is evidence which suggest that a persistent digital divide between and within countries. ICT increases the flexibility of delivery of education so that learners can access knowledge anytime and from anywhere. It can influence the way students are taught and how they learn as now the processes are learner driven and not by teachers. This in turn would better prepare the learners for lifelong learning as well as to improve the quality of learning. It can improve the quality of teaching-learning and thus contribute to the development of Ethiopia. Nowhere is the ICT gap more evident than in the education system and practices. This study assesses ICTs in supporting educational practices of Ethiopia for transforming into a knowledge- and information-based society and economy. It also focus on the benefits that ICT integration in education system can provide, right from breaking time and distance barriers to facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing among instructors and students. The paper further argues the role of ICT in transforming teaching and learning and seeks to explore how this will impact on the way programs will be offered and delivered in the universities of the future. The role of the instructor is utterly critical here. Yet a primary barrier to instructors’ readiness and confidence in using ICT, despite general enthusiasm and belief in benefits for learners, is their lack of relevant preparation, either initially or in-service. Research indicates that, until recently, training opportunities have remained limited in availability and inconsistent in quality. This has resulted in demonstrably low proficiency in using ICT, and a general lack of knowledge about technology in teaching and learning. There are some recent examples of successful practice in developing ICT use in Ethiopian higher education institutes through its integration. Moreover, the recent global economic downturn has amplified the shortage of public funds to devote to the already expensive business of training instructors to use ICT. Increasingly, large class size and the designation of ICT as a discrete subject, lead to a dire lack of instructors trained to integrate technology into teaching-learning in their areas. These are fundamental challenges to be overcome before ICT capacity building can become a reality in higher education institutes. This paper concludes that regardless of all the limitations characterizing it, ICT benefits education systems to provide quality education in alignment with constructivism, which is a contemporary paradigm of learning. It also identifies a need for instructors and higher education institutes to integrate ICT into teaching and learning using contemporary pedagogical approaches. Finally, it focuses on understanding what a knowledge society is and exploring its relationship to ICT, Education and Development. It thereafter considers trends in ICT integration in Education and Development and highlights some of the challenges in implementing ICT in education initiatives in Ethiopia. Ideally instructors will be assisted to work collaboratively over time with peers, and to learn from one another’s innovations and experiences. This requires prioritisation of ICT and continuous professional development that is pedagogically sound and aligned with wider policy interests, and means offering sufficient support and time for instructors to get to grips with new technologies. Underpinning these recommendations is development of locally produced, contextually relevant course content for both instructors and learners.

Keywords: Ethiopia, higher educational institutions, information and communication technology, teaching-learning practices.

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