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The Role of ICT in Africa’s Evolving Higher Education Sector

In the past ten years Africa has seen tremendous growth in the demand for higher education and this can be witnessed by the ever-growing numbers of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) both private and public. This situation has been fueled by several factors which include free secondary education from various governments propelling a surge in the numbers that qualify for higher education, improved society and emergence of the knowledge economy. There are also clear signs of the demand for higher education that is ubiquitous, there are more people on the move within the continent, lifelong learning is more sought after, employees’ skills becoming outdated after 3-5 years at the job which calls for retooling, the emergence of both digital natives and digital migrants. These factors are propelling the evolution that is happening in the HEI in order to certify the demand which is higher than the supply. Questions like; how to cope with the ever-increasing numbers with minimal expenditure but still providing the quality education are constantly being raised. Therefore, there has been a paradigm shift in many African HEI in both educational delivery and its management. This paradigm shift has focused on the ability to deliver education effectively, efficiently and ubiquitously with minimum costs possible.

In order to take care of the paradigm shift and its demands, African HEI have adopted innovative ideas to sustain their supply for quality education. These innovative ways include the adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to enable educational provision and its effective management. Billy Gates has once asked Universities and colleges “How can we use technology as a tool to recreate the entire college experience? How can we provide a better education to more people for less money?”. Other organizations such as UNESCO have also stated that African education status requires innovative ways to support it in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Further, the CISCO system Chief Executive Officer once said that the next bigger killer application of the internet will be education. These clearly signify the potential of ICT in solving the current dilemma brought about by African demands for higher education but with less supply of it.

Integration of ICT within HEI in Africa is slowly taking shape with several institutions appreciating its potential to offer a ubiquitous teaching and learning to both teachers and students. The integration has taken a form of use of computers and internet, TV, radio, video conferencing and mobile learning. This integration of ICT within the educational sector depends on several things such as activity to be undertaken, processes involved, target audience, availability and accessibility of resources. However, it should be noted that integration of ICT in education is not only about educational delivery but includes education management, administration, communication, finance and security. It is therefore important to understand the requirements under which a particular service needs to be enabled using ICT if there is going to be returns on investments.

Why integrate ICT in Education?

This pertinent question demonstrates that for African HEI to integrate ICT in their education institutions, there should be clear reasons that stimulate the adoption. Several reasons have been identified as those that have fueled integration of ICT in the African HEI. These include: effective collaboration, effective networking, easy sharing of resources, effective accessibility to educational resources, ubiquitous education and empowering of learners. Integration ICT in education teaching and learning has evolved in HEI leading to a new method of educational delivery called e-learning. E-Learning has been defined by several people to mean the use of ICT to support formal or non-formal knowledge acquisition. This form of learning is one that should support enthusiasm to happen in class, be engaging, allow exchange of educational resources, enriching, enhancing, allows being extended beyond geographical boarders, that is entertaining, that allows embedding and empowers learners to become better.  HEI in Africa are starting to realize that education has evolved and what used to be a traditional classroom is now a flipped classroom. This inversion allows students-teachers to collaborate and engage from anywhere, at their wish and at any time they wish.


E-learning world trend indicate that it is annually growing at rate of $0.4 Billion from 2015 and expected to rise by 2020. Statistics also indicate that there is an increasing expenditure on e-learning in several HEI across the world as compared the traditional education. However, as compared to the entire world Africa still lags behind in the integration of ICT in teaching and learning with just $512 Million revenue against USA’s $27 Billion revenue. The advancement in technology, reduced costs of hardware, software and internet connection in the world market is affecting greatly the adoption of e-learning. This is creating several opportunities for the HEI as described below.

Opportunities for E-Learning in HEI

Several opportunities have emerged due to adoption of e-learning within HEI and these include: immerging partnerships among institutions in terms of research and training, empowered learners, real-time supervision and share of resources is possible despite of the geographical barrier, reach out to more training opportunities, intercontinental educational markets for institutional courses, increased need for lifelong and work place learning and massive education through ubiquitous means. It is obvious today that the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are taking the world by storm and are being more recognized within the HEI. African HEI have to tap into the opportunity of the MOOCs to contribute to the localization and authoring of content that is suitable for the African setting.


Challenges for E-learning in HEI

Despite that several opportunities exist, there are challenges that are serious impediments to the full integration of ICT in HEI. These include unavailability of adequate ICT resources by the institutions, uncoordinated ICT integration projects funded by different bodies with own interests, student to ICT ratio is still very high, indiscriminate learning within educational institutions, ICT illiteracy amongst the population in some of the communities (attitude and cultural change within the population), curriculum development to suit the e-learning teaching and learning model (focus being done on technology rather than pedagogy). The lack of appropriate ICT skills by the education stakeholders, the limited or no access to power in some areas, the internet access is still costly and has fueled plagiarism within HEI, preparation, planning and maintaining of quality is always an issue if not well monitored, and standardizing locally developed content

Interventions required in African HEI

Adoption of ICT in African HEI can be better implemented once the following interventions are undertaken. These include; waivers on ICTs for Education, conducting ICT Integration in Education sensitization and awareness workshops for institutional heads and teachers; strengthening inter sector linkages and collaborations to create synergies for effective integration of ICT in education, encouraging institutions to collaborate while purchasing things like internet, collaboratively procure e-subscription to e-resources, develop more localized content within the African setting, improving access and provision of ICT integrated education to special needs people and institutions of learning and adopting open source learning management system for costs saving purposes.

Jude T. Lubega holds a PhD in Computer Science with a specialization in E-Learning. He is currently a Professor of Information Technology who has vast experience in Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D). He is currently the Deputy Vice Chancellor and a professor within the School of Computing and Engineering of Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU). He has a vast experience in ICT integration in teaching and learning spread across 15 years plus. He is a distinguished scholar who has published widely in international fora.

My Family VS My Dreams: Living a Disowned Life- Prof. Jude T. Lubega

During my brother’s surprise birthday party that had been planned by his own wife and children, I kept on thinking how sweet it is to be part of such gatherings despite the routine office and other types of work around me. As we chatted away on several topics, drinking and having a laugh I could not stop thinking about my emails on phone and answering several calls concerning work. My brothers, sisters and wife seemed used to me being in such a scenario of thinking about work all the time against family quality time. The kids were joyfully running and playing all-over the house and compound. I was just enjoying seeing the kids run up and down since more than 10 families were in attendance.  I did not expect that something was just about to happen that would open my eyes and mind to reality.

My seven-year old daughter came running towards where the parents were seated to greet her aunt who had just arrived. The aunt opened her hands and gave her a big hug and greeted her in the native language. All parents waited to listen to the answer that would come from my daughter and it never came. This implied that she could not reciprocate the greeting to the aunt. The birthday boy of the day posed a question to the little girl that “ you mean you can’t speak your mother tongue language?” In a few seconds the little girl responded, “My dad never teaches me to speak my mother tongue language. What he does is always to go to work all the time, all the time, all the time. But when he is the head of the family and he is supposed to be teaching me”.  The little girl said these words with a lot of anger in her and we could see it from her face and afterwards she went back to continue playing with other kids. My brother turned back to me and said today you got what you have always wanted to hear and I do hope you pick a lesson from it. Quietly I picked up my mood once again that had been sunk low by the little girl and I said to the parents, “ I now know that I have been living a disowned life and change has to start today”.

Lesson Learnt

Sometimes parents think that working too hard to acquire all the wealth that is needed in the family is the most important against the family quality time. This was wrong because despite all what I gave to my family in terms of the wealth, the ipads for the kids, the funds for them to go to the cinema, zoo, holiday and so on, the family quality time could not be replaced.

  • Many professionals work too hard to create the big corporations, to be the best CEOs and to accumulate as much wealth empire as possible. However, one thing that they fail to do is to make sure they create their own same shadow within the kids. There comes a time when all the wealth has been acquired, best corporation built but with non of the kids having the same traits of the parent to take forward what has been realised.
    • How can we expect our kids to live in our legacy when we were not there when they are growing up to show them what they need to do to be like the parents?
    • How can we expect the kids to take over the business developed by the parents when they have not been part of it, shown to love it, trained to secure it and grow it?
    • How can you expect your kids to become the best CEOs without having taught them about the best CEO you were during the time they slept and dinned with you?
  • Family is such a valuable asset to everyone and should never be neglected at all. The quality time with the family is so precious for training young ones, motivating them, nurturing them and act as a shock absorber for anything in one’s life. When there is danger, distress, trouble, stress, sickness and any other strain to the professional worker, it is the family that picks the pieces. It is also true that when there is happiness, joy and fulfilling the family should take the full credit too.
    • Do not neglect quality family time because it that time that will enrich you and rejuvenate you to do more good at work.
    • The kids learn a lot from parents and therefore they have a right to their classes from parents to determine their future. This should regularly be offered to them.
    • If you want your kids to be like you “the super CEO or best parent”, then you need to teach them how to become one. Do not expect to do that when they are old and have taken different directions. Am sure they will simply say, “ We are not interested in your life style”. Who is to blame for disowning the family when they needed you? The time has come for you to own them but it is too late.
  • Wealth and money cannot buy all what you need such as family, friends and the legacy you want. You just need to live that family life; friendly life and the legacy will automatically come to reign forever.

Power and Money are fruits of Life but Family and Friends are roots of Life; however we can manage without Fruits but can never stand without Roots.

Final message from what is written is that in life lets try not to live a disowned life against our families. The family needs you as my daughter reminded me of my major responsibility of being the family head. I need to work hard to change my role in my family. How about you?



“Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.” – Brad Henry

“We do not develop habits of genuine love automatically. We learn by watching effective role models – most specifically by observing how our parents express love for each other day in and day out.”– Josh McDowell

Published by Prof. Jude T Lubega