5 ICT Challenges for Remote Schools

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

These days, quality education is attainable but with the shift in rural and urban inequality, it is proving to be difficult for the rural population in developing countries. It is common knowledge that people in remote areas in Nigeria lack access to the most basic services, including educational resources.

Without a shred of doubt, education plays a pivotal role in Nigeria’s development. Recently, driving the use of technologies to facilitate teaching and learning has become imperative, with various Education technology companies developing innovative support systems for remote areas at the school and classroom level.

Read also: Challenges with Edtech in Nigeria

From our experience, many rural schools have success stories to share and inspire others. For a few, however, a rapid uptake is still a challenge which is often hindered by: power, internet connectivity, training & professional development and sustainability.

1. Power:
More than 95% of those living without electricity are in countries in rural sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. It is a fact that irregular power supply or constant power outage is a hindrance to effective delivery of education as well as the use of ICT tools, for those rural schools that already have access.

Until power is widely available, reliable and affordable for many Nigerians in remote areas, educational progression will be a lot slower than anticipated. Government & NGOs that support educational technology initiatives have to really consider how alternative power sources such as solar & batteries can provide assistance in more remote areas across Nigeria.

2.  Internet Connectivity:

Nigerians are still grappling with the high cost of accessing the internet and mobile services while internet speed is inordinately slow. For many remote schools, access to internet incurs high costs due to lack of cable infrastructure. For those that have had the opportunity to acquire IT resources & equipment, internet connectivity is frustratingly erratic. The challenge has led to strategic partnerships between key Government bodies and tech-owned companies to focus on incorporating Ed-Tech in remote and/or marginalized communities.

3. Training and professional development:

Even if power, Internet bandwidth, electrical devices and educational tools are present, there is still the question of how can teachers be able to use technologies effectively? Remote schools that have had the opportunity to incorporate technology for engaging and supporting learning, still have the issue of their teachers not being tech savvy at all. The development of instructional awareness and understanding of the concepts behind teaching with technology, is the first step to improving the academic outcomes of students in remote schools. UNESCO global ICT teacher competency framework has set the standard for driving teacher training and related activities in Nigeria, and we are hopeful it will continue to do so.

4. Sustainability:

It is one thing to have all the educational requirements set in place, it is another thing to continuously provide means to sustain those requirements. Sustainability shouldn’t be an issue at all; but sadly it keeps coming up in areas of Nigeria’s development. Part of the problem for remote & rural schools is the possible cost of maintenance. Initial grants and funding can only go such a long way when it is used to cover scholarships, free uniforms, classroom equipment as well as the upkeep of physical infrastructure. Which is why it is highly unlikely that maintaining technologies will move to the top of the list for these schools. Having sophisticated tech solutions that solves all the educational needs is a great move, but if they can’t be supported and maintained, then it slowly bites the dust.

Everyone & everything faces challenges, not excluding schools in rural areas. If adequately addressed, and seen as just short term obstacles that can be tackled, then the road to acquiring a quality education will be a whole lot easier.

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