We need to face the facts: all of the world’s sectors are going digital. Africa is also heading down the digital path, albeit at a far slower clip than Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia and, of course, the undisputed champion, North America. In Africa, some countries are lagging further behind than others. An Internet penetration rate of just 6% in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) shows how much farther behind the country is in all technology-driven areas.
And yet, there is one unmistakable fact: the pace at which Congolese youth are embracing Android technology inspires hope. This reality shows that, in this century, Android technology can transfer knowledge during the process of migration of services to all-digital systems. The current education system is rigid, and consistent non-budgeting in this sector is preventing curricula updating and adjustments to keep pace with changing technologies. The overwhelming majority of students who do not have a smartphone at least have an Android telephone that they can purchase for the modest price of $25. Just as students can purchase curricula for $10 or $20, they can also transform their Android telephone into an indispensable academic tool. If WiFi is unavailable on campuses (WiFi access would be included in academic fees), the cost of purchasing an Internet package would be similar to the costs incurred for practical exercises.
I am therefore proposing the creation of an online course platform that universities must be required to join. Based on their areas of interest and beginning in the second or third year of their master's program, students would pursue a series of courses in their chosen field, with training being provided in tutorials (videos, text, and audio recordings) that are more practical than theoretical in nature. These courses, which would include a practical examination, would be part of the selected academic curriculum. These videos and audio recordings must be downloadable, as a good connection for quality streaming is not guaranteed in the DRC.
To win over universities, this platform must be affiliated with an organization such as UNESCO and jointly managed with the Ministry of Higher and University Education. Other renowned universities should also be partners to provide mentoring. I speak so passionately about these tutorials because they allowed me to learn how to create and administer websites using GMS and acquire most of my knowledge in the fields of e-marketing and journalism for the Web during my final year of undergraduate studies and after pursuing my multimedia journalism studies.
Lastly, whatever the costs incurred by this new way of learning, it will always be far less expensive than the alternative (reserved for the privileged few in the DRC)—studying in universities in other continents.
Hervé Mukulu Vulotwa, a Congolese national, is a winner of the World Bank Africa 2019 Blog4Dev regional competition.