The COVID-19 crisis has irrevocably changed education. At the outset of the pandemic, 180+ countries mandated temporary school closures, leaving about 1.6 billion children and youth out of school and affecting approximately 85% of children world-wide. All countries were able to deploy remote learning technologies using a combination of TV, radio, online and mobile platforms. Currently, most countries are working towards re-opening schools, but there will still be intermittent closures and use of hybrid learning. However, school closures and limited access to remote learning means that learning poverty is likely to worsen from 53% to 63% especially in low-income countries.
“This begs the question: how can technology help today’s children and the adults of tomorrow?” says Jo Griffiths Co-founder of the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG), the exclusive rights holder of the Global Startup Awards (GSA) Africa – the first and only continent-wide Sustainable Development Goal-aligned tech innovation competition.
iSchool, Northern Africa Regional Winner has created an online education platform for 6-18 year olds, with over 8,000 graduates and 100+ coding coaches. The platform has recently become both STEM and AI accredited and has been voted in the Top 10 EdTech startups in the world. Mohamed Algawish, Founder of iSchool, states: “From day one we at iSchool believe in the potential of our nation’s young minds, that is why we are working day and night carrying a mission to empower today’s generation so that they become tomorrow’s technology leaders.”
Hanae Bezad Founder / President of Douar Tech, an inclusive tech hub and platform that contributes raising the resilience of vulnerable youth, especially rural women in Morocco and other countries in Africa, shares that her hope is for parents to understand the potential of technology to empower their children. “A lot of kids have to walk many kilometres just to go to school. I’ve also been in areas where I’ve had discussions with parents who have decided to take their daughters out of school because they are now hitting puberty and they don’t want them to risk getting pregnant or to have their period at school as there’s no infrastructure for them. Preventing their children from attending school is basically killing any chance for them to thrive in the 21st century. Technology has to solve this and empower people with knowledge to become the best version of themselves.”
Douar Tech is the Northern Africa Regional Winner of GSA Africa’s ESG Tech category and provides vulnerable youth with innovative entrepreneurship and web development skills.
George Akilimali, CEO and Founder of Tanzanian digital learning content development agency Smartcore, one of the GSA Africa country winners, shares that in Sub Saharan Africa there are more than 65 million students who are out of school. “That number is terrifying. Additionally, for those who are lucky enough to be in school, the quality of education is unfortunately low. That is why we have the challenge of unemployment; people lack skills because of the quality of education itself. These are the biggest problems in education in Africa today.”
Another GSA Africa country winner, Ibrahim Oredola, Founder of SKillNG, a skill acquisition accelerator startup based in Nigeria, adds that while students do learn some skills, they aren’t equipped with the right skills that are demanded globally. “Unemployment is one of the greatest problems in Africa, especially in Nigeria, where we have over 80% of the workforce either unemployed or underemployed because there is a skill mismatch and skill gap. In fact, recent research has found that 90% of job applicants are not qualified for the jobs they apply for. With tech being the backbone of every single industry nowadays, we need people to be tech-empowered.”
Looking to the future, Mustafa Abd Ellatif, Co-Founder and CEO of EYouth, the Egyptian country winner, believes that education will be completely online – especially universities. “Not only will it be cheaper, but this will also enable students to attend any university in the world to get the learning they desire.”
Griffiths concludes by saying:” To have a chance of impacting SDG Goal 4 – providing access to quality education on the continent, we need to first find the solutions that are solving educational challenges on the ground. Through the GSA Africa 2021 competition, Edtech constituted 19% of the 7500+ nominations. Our aim is to give visibility to these solutions and connect them to the right networks to help ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
For more information, go to https://www.globalstartupawards.com/africanstartupawards
Is a Free VPN Safe to Use? Exploring the Risks and Benefits
In our current digital age, online privacy and security have become an importantt concerns for internet users around the world. With the increasing prevalence of cyber threats and data breaches, people are actively seeking ways to protect their online activities. Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, have gained popularity as tools that promise safeguarding your digital footprint. While there are many VPN options available, free VPNs, in particular, have garnered significant attention due to their accessibility. In this article, we will explore the risks and benefits of using a free VPN, with a focus on free VPN for Windows.
Understanding VPNs: What Are They?
Before delving into the world of free VPNs, let’s understand what a VPN is and how it works. A VPN is essentially a service that establishes a secure, encrypted connection between your device (in this case, your Windows PC) and a remote server. This connection masks your IP address and encrypts your internet traffic, making it difficult for third parties, such as hackers or government agencies, to monitor your online activities.
The Benefits of Using a Free VPN
Enhanced Privacy: One of the primary advantages of using a free VPN is the boost in online privacy. Your internet service provider (ISP), websites, and even potential cybercriminals won’t be able to track your online behavior when you’re connected to a VPN.
Bypassing Geo-Restrictions: Free VPNs often allow users to access geo-restricted content. For example, if a streaming platform or website is only accessible in certain regions, a VPN can make it appear as though you’re browsing from an eligible location.
Protection on Public Wi-Fi: When you connect to public Wi-Fi networks, your data becomes vulnerable to interception. A free VPN can add an extra layer of security when you’re using unsecured public Wi-Fi at cafes, airports, or hotels.
The Risks Associated with Free VPNs
Data Logging: Many free VPN providers track and log user data. This can include your online activities, websites visited, and even personal information. This data may then be sold to third parties or used for targeted advertising.
Inadequate Security Measures: Some free VPNs might not implement robust encryption protocols, leaving your data vulnerable to breaches or leaks.
Limited Features: Free VPNs often come with limitations, such as slower connection speeds, data caps, and fewer server locations. These restrictions can hinder your online experience.
Malware and Adware: Some free VPN services have been found to include malware or adware in their software, potentially infecting your device.
Uncertain Jurisdiction: Free VPN providers can be based in countries with lax data privacy laws, which means they may not be obligated to protect your data.