Learning Management System (LMS)
This is a cloud-based software platform that enables learners and educators experience the learning process in an online setting, described by some as e-Learning.
Are LMS providers ready to take on this challenge?
Africa has a significant digital infrastructure and skills gaps, with between 5% and 50% of its population having consistent access to the internet compared to 80% and above in Europe and North America (Karuitha, 2020). The gap replicates in other sectors of the economy due to the bottlenecks in digital infrastructure. In addition, there is minimal government spending on education across the continent.
Adopting e-Learning is one of the ideal solutions to overcoming the many barriers of human capital development facing African youths. In the education sector, 39% of university students in Africa enrolled for online classes during the pandemic, with significant regional variations; 17% in West Africa, 43% in East Africa and 41% in Southern Africa (Karuitha, 2020). The gap signifies that LMS has a vast potential to succeed, however there are significant challenges for providers of LMS on the continent, which includes but not limited to: poor internet accessibility; availability of locally created course content; availability of experienced instructors or train-the-trainers.
Internet Access & Connectivity
LMS providers in Africa will face several hurdles in reaching the market with the current poor internet access & connectivity. According to the U.N. Broadband Commission, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of countries with the world’s worst internet availability affecting 80% of countries in the region.
Availability of Locally Created Course Content
Africa is a unique continent with distinct cultures and diverse languages. Unfortunately, Africa’s academic institutions have not sufficiently invested in courses with local content to match national curriculums, which could be used for e-Learning and minimise educational inequality.
Training & Development Issues
Many African teachers were educated in a climate of minimal technology, particularly if they are now middle-aged. This means they will find it hard to use modern technology to engage learners and support online courses. LMS providers need to emphasise that e-learning is not a threat to teachers’ jobs.
Instead, it is a tool to help them in their work through assisted teaching. A considerable challenge is to develop and implement training and professional development for teachers in the area of e-Learning, so they can embrace it and motivate students to take part. Partnerships with large internet companies and EdTech providers are crucial to building teacher skills through opportunities for ‘Train-the-Trainer’ model.
Furthermore, there are several opportunities for LMS providers to transform the market because digital technology allows for the documentation of this vast pool of local knowledge, which can in turn be offered as part of their portfolio of courses. In addition, new skills that offer work opportunities for the youth while allowing for the advancement of contemporary knowledge through research built on the foundation of this indigenous knowledge.
It is essential to note that location would not be an issue for an LMS provider seeking to create job opportunities for the African youth. According to Kuper (2021), there is a current trend around the world where highly skilled jobs are being off-shored by global technology companies to the developing countries with highly skilled youth, especially in the technology industry sector.
Is Africa ready for a digital transformation?
All in all, the LMS market is still young in Africa and it has a huge potential to succeed and surpass the rest of the world. Even where opportunities exist, the path leading to successful participation in the digital economy for the youth in Africa has hurdles. With conducive macro environment, LMS providers in Africa have the chance to overcome these obstacles and benefit from their services in educating the African youth and providing employment opportunities.