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Call for Submissions: Innovating Education in Africa Expo 2020

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The advent of COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges in Africa’s education system and reinforces the need for fit for context, innovative and scalable solutions in education. DOTSS[1] provides an approach for reorienting Africa’s education and training systems to meet the knowledge, competencies, skills, innovation and creativity required to nurture African core values and promote sustainable development at the national, sub-regional and continental levels as espoused in CESA.

There is the need to promote innovation in the entire education and skills development ecosystems, taking advantage of the digital revolution, in order to increase its impact and also ensure that disadvantaged groups are not left out. As the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) states, ICT is an essential tool for ensuring universal access, quality of provision, and empowerment of school graduates for meaningful personal lives, and contribution to social economic development.  

Since its inception in 2018, the Innovating Education in Africa Expo has continued to gather momentum and established itself as the leading Pan-African event promoting the adoption of Education Innovations in Africa. In light of the above, the African Union Commission (AUC) and Partners across Africa will hold the third edition of Innovating Education in Africa Expo as a virtual series of events and activities from October 2020 – June 2021.

Innovations being sought

The innovation should either be in the phase of piloting or implementation in Africa with some demonstrated success. The solutions should focus on one or more aspects of the education delivery system including data and analytics, teaching and learning management software, teaching and learning materials, connectivity of schools, assessment, education hardware and infrastructure, and school administration. Additionally, the innovation should satisfy at least one of the following:

  • Enable access to education and improved quality of delivery for those who are unable to access existing services.
  • Demonstrate a scalable, sustainable business and financing model.
  • Provide services to consumers at lower prices than existing alternatives.

Deadline for submissions is 25th September 2020 by 23:00 (GMT+3). Please send any enquiries to owusum@africa-union.org.

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[1] DOTSS is an acronym for Digital connectivity, Online and offline learning, Teachers as facilitators and motivators of learning, Safety online and in schools and Skills focused learning.

Innovation

Digital Education is the Future and These Startups Are Here for It

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A user in the Computer Laboratory, Main Library, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Rarely has the education system been as shaken as in the last 12 months. Years of slow progress towards digitalization and new learning methods have been replaced by mandatory use of long distance communication tools, new testing methods, and a lot of creativity from teachers and parents on how to engage children in learning. With apps and different online tools becoming a part of children’s lives, it is no wonder that the EdTech startup scene has been flourishing.

According to Crunchbase, venture funding for EdTech reached 4.1 billion USD in the first seven months of 2020, which is 1.5 billion USD more than in the same time frame a year before. It is also the highest amount raised in that frame for the past five years. Most of these deals are still for U.S. based companies, with big players like Skillshare and Materclass raising funds in Series D and E, respectively. Some of the biggest deals are also in China, for example Yuanfudao raised a billion USD in Series G and Zuoyebang raised 750 million USD in Series E.

EdTech wins two years in a row

Many emerging markets are still missing the necessary infrastructure and policies working towards keeping children in school though. Due to low income, children are often forced to leave school and work at a very young age. This is why digital education is especially important in these markets. It is often an answer to issues that involve education inaccessibility and high costs, providing an innovative and quality learning environment to children.

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Innovation

How Diversification Helped Switzerland During the Pandemic

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The Swiss flag flies high. Photo credit: Seedstars

It is well known that Switzerland has one of the strongest economies in the world. With the OECD grouping them into the high-income countries and the second highest GDP in the world, even economy newbies know that this small central-European country is synonymous with stability and prosperity.

The business environment is an interesting mix of world-famous companies, top-notch universities and research facilities, SMEs and startups working in a relatively small geographical area. Ranging from medicine, precious metals and gemstones, heavy machinery, to tobacco, chocolate and luxury perfumes and cosmetics, the 310 billion USD exports can compete with countries with more resources and population.

The Swiss economy is based on a highly qualified labour force working in specialized industries, with the main economic activities being pharmaceuticals, machinery, food and financial services. The “land of watches” can boast its high-class motors, generators, turbines and a whole range of other deep tech products. Continuous investments in research and development (about 3 percent of total GDP) has not only diversified the existing industries, but made it one one of the best places to do business.

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Innovation

Ericsson Innovation Awards 2021

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The Low-Cost Medical Ventilator (Bulamu Ventilator), a product of Makerere University and Kiira Motors Corporation on display in the Main Hall, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda on 28th August 2020 during the launch of two innovations in the fight against COVID-19.

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the digital divide is growing. Economic, geographic, gender and access factors have left vast portions the global population at a severe disadvantage. The causes are many, including lack of infrastructure, resources and the high cost of devices. Your challenge is to identify a digital divide and develop a solution to bridge it.

How to participate

To enter the awards, you must register with a complete entry by August 5, 2021, 13:00 CET (2:00PM EAT).

A ‘complete entry’ means all required questions are answered and you have registered up to four total team members, all of whom are currently enrolled students pursuing a university degree. To qualify, each team member must be pursuing a higher vocational or academic degree (undergraduate, graduate, or doctorate), and graduating on or after the end date of the Semi-finalist period (September 13, 2021).

We strongly encourage you to embrace diversity and inclusiveness by bringing team members from different disciplines, cultures, life experience and skill sets. We’ve found that diverse teams often produce the most inspired ideas.

Entries are allocated into seven regions, depending on where your university is based.

By registering with a complete submission, you will automatically be entered to compete in the regional competition and will be eligible to be considered for the Global Semi-finals.

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