I attended the Second Edition of the Innovating Education in Africa Expo 2019 in Gaborone, Botswana, from 20th– 22nd August 2019, together with my Senior Advisor responsible for Partnerships and Resources Mobilization, Mr Tshimanga Mukade-Mutoke and my Special Assistant, Ms Biruktayet Bihon. This event was quite a spectacular affair organized by the African Union Commission in partnership with the Government of Botswana and several partner agencies across Africa. The theme of the event was “Harnessing the Capacity of Information Communication Technology to ensure Inclusion, Quality and Impact on Education and Training in Africa”. There were more than 500 participants in this year’s Expo from all walks of life.
These included academics, ICT practitioners, policy-makers that included Ministers of Education, and Sciences and Technology from many member states of the African Union. Many of them through demonstrations, exhibitions, technical paper presentations, discussions and debates showcased ICT-based technological and social innovations in every area of education and training. Many hitherto hidden innovation practices became very visible, and most participants I exchanged with during the event told how me how marvelled they were to know about some of the innovation practices and how it was important for the sake of Africa’s development to support, up-scale, replicate and further develop these innovations. Many of them saw this as an opportunity to celebrate African innovators and expose them to networks of potential markets, advisors and sponsors. “We have talents in Africa, but we do not always make the best use of them. We also lack facilities, unlike in other regions of the world”, one of the young innovators from Benin told me.
CAFOR submitted one paper at the Expo as a partner of the African Union and contributed to the development of a Communication Plan for the Expo to be implemented jointly by CAFOR and the Division of Information and Communication (DIC) of the African Union Commission. CAFOR will continue to focus on (i) Advocacy for education innovation and strengthened continental collaboration; and (ii) Engaging in critical debates and discussions on the full range of pressing education challenges and opportunities related to ICT in education, with diverse practitioners, policy-makers, the business sector and financiers committed to supporting and promoting innovation in education.
In terms of practical innovation, CAFOR showcased an ICT-based innovation that successfully increased inclusion, quality and impact in education and training in an African country in crisis. We presented a descriptive field study which was also an innovation entitled “Using the Media Lab to teach courses for Journalism, Radio and Television Sections in a Media Department”. A CAFOR member from Tripoli, Libya, Dr. Khaled Abou Kacem Ghulam, Professor in Journalism Section, and Head of the Tripoli Media laboratory in the Media Department of the University of Tripoli with two of his colleagues, Prof. Tarek Rajab Guerfal, Professor in the Radio Section, Prof. Ali Amari Salem, also from the Radio Section at the University of Tripoli conducted this study. The Tripoli Media Laboratory of the University of Tripoli has provided hands-on training in Journalism to numerous youths, who would otherwise never receive that type of quality training in a country embedded in a severe factional conflict.
Briefly, the Media Lab of Tripoli (MLT) was established in March 2014, supported by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). It contains two TV and Radio studios and fifteen workstations and fifteen cameras and recording devices.
MLT is providing practical journalism training in a country embroiled in a civil war. It has been the foundation stone for the transformation from the theoretical to the practical side in teaching the media models. Since established in the early 1990s, the Tripoli University Media Department focused mainly on theory, lecture and classroom exercises. The MLT is currently filling this critical gap in this emergency.
The Media Lab has trained more than 4,000 students, most of them women over the past five years. In a war situation, the need arises to have this kind of innovation. As I said when I presented this innovation at the Expo 2019 in Botswana on behalf of the three academics, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Therefore in an emergency, this innovation serves to guarantee continual education and training for young people in Libya.
The MLT has hosted and trained tens of young journalists and students from other Libyan cities and universities during the summertime. It also offered media and communications training to more than one hundred media officers and journalists of the Government of National Accord in Libya. Despite the ongoing conflict in Tripoli, and the limited sources of funding, the Media Lab continues to provide training to the students and other trainees.
This study has shed light on the training experience within the Media Lab of the Media Department (Sections of Journalism, Radio and Television). It is essential because of its effects on the level, capacity and efficiency of the human element (students). This experience drew the attention of both the stakeholders at the University of Tripoli and the other Libyan universities, who may use it to spread the training and practical application in the academic sphere, at the departmental level or the sections.
CAFOR is embarking on an aggressive publicity and communication campaign over the Innovation Education in Africa Expo 2019 in all member countries of the African Union. CAFOR is striving to achieve record participation of youths and youth organizations, educational institutions, media organizations, development partners, and of course the governments of member states, including sub-national government authorities, e.g. local governments that are closer to the grass root in innovation initiatives in many forms that would benefit the young people of Africa. CAFOR will publicize the outcome of Innovation Education in Africa Expo 2019 in all African countries, for possible replication, adaptation and upscaling. We congratulate the 40 innovators who were awarded various prizes during this Expo. A special congratulations to Ms Susannah Farr of South Africa and CEO at gold-youth and gold-enterprises who was awarded the first prize of U.S. $50,000, from over 300 applications across Africa. Ms Farr shared gold-youth’s engagement in creating a movement to implant long-term peer role models and mentors into all schools and communities measuring concrete improvements in social mindset and behaviour change, improved educational outcomes and job creation.