The Solutions To Gaps And ICT In Education Sectors

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A Brief Overview

The analysis conducted on the objective of the thesis gives interesting dimensions to the solutions identified to the gaps. The objective of the research is to identify the tools available in the market to enable the acquisition of knowledge and learning in schools, covering a wide area, through computers, Internet and Information and communication Technology (ICT). As discussed in the following paragraphs and the subsequent sections it has been found that the human dimension of the problem plays an important role.

The complexity and the amount of challenges that are to be confronted by the teachers are increasing day by day hence they see themselves at such a crossroad of multiple transformations that seem to be occurring within and outside the limits of the school. In midst of such modifications, the teachers play an active role as new technologies have been found to be introduced inside the school, similar to the changes that happen in the field of education (Batane,2006).

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Henceforth, schools are continued to be provided with the latest technological equipments such as computers to smoothen the process of teaching and learning in Botswana. The literature at hand demonstrates that the recent era of education in Botswana calls for a desperate use of technology to be learnt and employed by the teachers over there. Therefore, the teachers who are still in practice confront the challenge of being a professional in the required technology in order to perform effectively in the technology-oriented classes that have been introduced in the schools of Botswana (Batane, 2002).

One of the studies conducted to analyze the process of the performance of the teachers in a particular school in Botswana concerning the technology that is being used in the classes. An authentic record was accumulated by interviewing the teachers and the officials of the Ministry of Education in deep. The results thereafter available at hand, state, that the teachers who are already through with the knowledge of the computers by their personal initiative are going through a comprehensive training of technology inside the school. Moreover, the teachers are more or less dissatisfied with the training that is being imparted to them. Hence, the research conducted suggest a more organized advance towards the training that is being imparted to the teachers inside the school in order to involve more number of teachers and can have good advantage out of the training (Batane, 2002).

Another study tries to test the alterations in the behavior of the teachers plus their capability to follow the trend of computerization that is happening in their schools. The factors that were determined to analyze the success of the research done were: training courses of the teachers, making of panel of teachers, hopes and enthusiasm of the teachers towards the training and how much teachers use the computer inside the school.

The study was conducted in the schools of Botswana by employing the subsequent tools: questionnaires, interviews, focus panels, case studies and observations. And the panels that were analyzed were that of students along with the teachers. The outcomes that were extracted stated a drastic change in the behavior of the teachers and the capability of going with the computerization. Moreover, the teachers who had a thorough knowledge of the computers, employed the tools of computer to help them and made good use of the software and developed a better enthusiasm to use the computers (Totolo, 2005).

Up until now, the teachers were not yet very much free to the methods that were changing and were much more comfortable with the conventional method of teaching. They quoted that they had not expected any kind of change because of computerization (Totolo, 2005).

Findings of the Analysis

The analysis of the current situation of the ICT in Botswana was conducted with an objective to identify their availability, usage, application and the relevance of them to impacted people.

The relation between appropriate technology alternative and economic growth has started to gain identification with the attempts of Botswana Technology Center (BTC), in Botswana. The organization of BTC aims at helping the people of Botswana in recognizing proper technology alternatives. By employing the resources available at hand along with knowledge, the BTC consistently analyzes and, adopts novel technologies as and when needed in order to make the ends meet in Botswana. The activities consist of relocation of applicable technologies to different economic sectors public and the industries (Totolo, 2005).

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The BTC plays an active role in designing and developing electronic products like modular data logger, borehole water sensor, solar rechargeable hearing aid, and photovoltaic controller, all of these are which, vigorously used on a local basis, with a number of them patented across Africa.

The boom that has been lately experienced in the sector of information and communication technology in Botswana is gradually seeing a downward trend. The industry of computers, become to a great extent ready for action and is seeing good numbers of world class payers coming in. This implies that lately there are more than fifty dealers across the country; the chief concentration was there in Gaborone. Open to the new technology, Botswana gets a number of products much before than the other parts of South Africa (Long Term Vision 2016, 1997).

An increased percentage of the occupation of information technology is more or less related to the government, with regional companies capable of supplying, to a rising level, the proficiency and the provision to fulfil all the needs of the departments of state. With the entire continuum of the sector provided for, a number of dealers offer a comprehensive solution, providing support, software and hardware, where the other set of people have chosen to concentrate on products that are industry-specific (Totolo, 2007).

The individual computer magazine of Botswana keeps on updating the people in line with the most up-to-the-minute modifications that keep on happening inside the industry. There is an electronic billboard, that helps the specialists of the information technology in such concerns that permit an access to around 1500 topics related to computers (Kaino, 2005).

The biggest display of the equipment of the computer and automation of office in sub-Saharan regions of Africa form to be the central fraction of the Bitex exhibition, 1994. It was the first ever Computer Africa Focus, with a number of regional companies taking an active part and offering a stunning display of the most up-to-the-minute technology. Moreover, one of the demanding challenges of management anywhere is how to go about the development of the performance of the student in the urban public schools of America.

In addition to this, there is no scarcity of projected elucidations: Seeking awesome principals, delegating them the required authorities, introduction of competitive markets in collaboration with charters, alternatives, and vouchers, establishment of good schools to make sure that the students get required and proper attention, and the list continues. On one hand, such approaches have a stunning influence on private schools, whereas on the other hand, they have not succeeded for producing even one well-performing advanced school system (Kaino, 2005).

In spite of these initiatives and a doubling-up in yearly public expenditure on education for over thirty years before this, to around $450 billion in 2005, none has been able to make out how to acquire brilliance on a broad parameter in almost each school there in the district. The basic reason responsible for this is that, a number of teachers, and the people conducting research and the makers of the policy, more often than not, look at district office as an organization which is controlled by the superintendent that ignores and supports almost every school there in the district-as a chief constituent of the obstacle and not as an important fraction of the answer to the problem (Kaino, 2004).

Besides this, the solutions that are based on schools are important, yet they are not sufficient. Had they been sufficient, the low-performing schools would be able to develop themselves and the districts would be brimming up with, highly-developed schools. Gaining brilliance on a larger level calls for a strategy that would work on a larger level for developing guidelines inside the classroom and a particular organization can execute it. It is in the capacity of district office only to form this kind of a plan, recognize and circulate excellent practices, develop leadership qualities at all standards, create information systems to monitor the improvement of a student and hold the concerned people responsible for the consequences. The basic reason why the modification attempts have not gained any kind of success on the district level is that, they have neither tried to aid the district office in performing this role, nor they have build up a feasible alternative (Kaino, 2005).

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What would an organization that is in a position to support a tactic for developing learning and teaching across a district appear like? In what way the district offices create significant structures, cultures along with systems that are particular to education of public. There is no administration model as such. A number of business executives have encouraged superintendents and boards of school to control their districts more or less like businesses- like execute the same administration, organizational advances, and leadership. The subsequent sections focus on the answers to such questions.

Current Trends

In order to assist the leaders of the advanced school systems advance and execute an administration model, twelve faculty members from Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Business School in the year 2003, came up with the concept of Public Education Leadership Project (PELP). The project concentrated on advanced school districts for an apparent reason: They are the largest obstacle in the education of U.S. with reference to the number of students and accomplishment. If records are to be trusted then around seventy of the students only in the U.S. succeed to qualify high school, which ranks the United States at the tenth place amongst the thirty countries that are member of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In a maths test conducted for the fifteen year olds in OECD countries, the American students gained a scoring of twenty-four out of thirty. They scored lesser marks than the students of countries with equivalent wealth like Germany, France, and Japan along with the students in developing countries like Poland and Slovakia. Advanced schools impart education to an uneven share of the students who are Spanish, African and American in the country, who since the age of nine are by now lagging behind by three grade standards in mathematics and reading. About half of these students, succeed to pass to high school; those who are able to read of only an eight grade standard on an average (HBR, 2006).

It is not since long that the team of PELP has strived to the fullest to recognize proficient administration and leadership exercises from both non-profit and business sectors that might be applicable if modified to the exceptional background of advanced public school districts. Moreover, the panel has conducted a thorough research on the achievements and the breakdown of the advanced school districts. It invested hours of monitoring around fifteen districts all over United States, with the population of students varying from 7,900 to 434,400. After a long time of stagnation, a number of these districts had begun to gain some very attention-grabbing accomplishments in terms of student accomplishment, yet the average standards in each student were still extremely low (HBR, 2006).

The team of PELP has drawn out a successful strategy for gaining an excellent student performance in a whole school district and for creating a consistent organization that could execute a strategy in a consistent manner. Employing this strategy to direct them, almost nine out of fifteen districts, along with Chicago, teamed up with PELP to examine and improve the approaches of the new management.

It is a bit before time in the procedure, but then the outcomes that are at hand so far are really very much amazing and excellent. Out of fifteen districts that have been researched on, twelve that have been obstinately adhering to the system wide administrational and organizational brilliance are making authentic, constant development in improving the performance of their students. This implies that the proficiency of students in mathematics and reading at varying grade standards has progressively increased for about past three years.

Besides, in order to make the technology of computers in schools, it is important that the teachers are trained and are prepared in advance, to capably assimilate it the circular that they have circulated. Training of teachers is the chief activity towards the advancement of educational technology exercises because of the vigorous use instructional expertise: those who are equipped with a systems approach and those concentrating on logical technologies (HBR, 2006).

According to the report of 1995, the teachers, for using the technology well, not only require having an access to it, but also have to think of new ways in which the technology can be put to use. It is henceforth, integral to realize as to how teachers connect with technology, what their responsibility is in a new atmosphere like this, and how they are helped in classrooms that are more or less technology-based. Using computers in schools puts up a challenge before the teachers who are practicing and the teachers who follow the conventional methods of teaching and are not much acquainted about computers since, they were not into the session of the technology training. Such teachers face a problem of learning something absolutely new and find difficulty in changing their method of teaching, and the process becomes more challenging for them.

On the other hand, technology has undeniably and comprehensively taken an entrance in the field of education and the teachers find themselves at that stage where they are left with no other alternative other than learning the technology. For a number of experienced teachers, technology was something that needs not to be learned at the initial phase. Additionally, the results that are at hand of the research done concerning the influence of the technology is drastically positive, with researches stating how technology aids in helping the students learn and perform better. The teachers in the research stated that technology aided them a lot in encouraging the students to learn and to teach them in various methods. They reported that the students, who nearly wanted to give up, found the school an interesting place where they could work wonders with technology in their education. The technology helped the students to get in touch with other students all over the world. The inference of the research was that the normal activities which could not be conducted in the school, worked wonders when blended with the use of technology and appropriate and cautious guidance from the teacher. Computers have continued to be accepted by the schools as they introduce new heights of performance in there (Botswana MOE, 2009).

Different reports state varied suggestions as to how schools should employ computers in developing the quality of education that they impart. A number of experts advice that permission of too much of independence while using computers should not be there for students, as they may resort to some ill-practices with it. On the other hand, there is a different team of teachers, who state that it is better if you leave the students to learn everything inside the computers on their own.

An APC (2009) study lays down the benefits and the way to implement ICTs for the advancement of democracy and empowerment in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The study identifies the ICT has the potential to synergise the development of economy, democratisation, poverty reduction and seeping the education to everywhere. The report recommends three strategic priorities that can be used to effectively implement ICTs in any program. The priorities are given as below -

Raise and build the awareness and understanding of the potential of ICTs

Institutional strengthening of the state government departments like ministry of education in Botswana

Support the community voice in debates in public on ICT

ICTs in the educational field have been identified as particularly beneficial to girls in Africa (S. Issacs, 2002). The paper identifies the benefits of application of ICTs for effectively enhancing the learning, educational management and teaching for the complete lifecycle of early childhood development to furthering the adult education. The paper analysed the objective of introducing ICTs in formal secondary and primary school education in Africa. The study mentions the success of schoolnet programs in Africa as well as gives examples of various programs which have been successfully running and benefiting all.

Recommendations for the identified gaps

In order to bridge the gaps, the teachers, using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Botswana's Education System, can make use of following methods:

Training the Teachers to Employ the Technology

A number of teachers had lack of self-confidence inside them, due to which they tried to keep away from using the technology. Besides, those who tried using it, still were very unsure whether they would be able to keep up with the technology. It was brought to notice that the Ministry of Education was training very less of teachers in the pilot schools when computer knowledge program was introduced, but as the program got scattered in increased number of schools, the schools became to be more accountable for training all their teachers effectively. On the other hand, this was no longer followed only for the reference of the training of technology (Botswana MOE, 2009).

Besides, another problem that the teachers faced for using the technology in their classes was the lack of experience that they had concerning the use of the technology. Prawd, in his research, inferred that the teachers, who gained professional acquaintance of computers for almost five years, were more probable in using it in their classes. He concluded that ongoing specialized development is required to aid the teachers not only to gain an acquaintance of the technology, but to use the technology in their classes as well.

One of the studies (J. Leach, 2004), on investigating the use of ICT in educating teachers in Global South, concludes as -

All the teachers and students involved in the study developed confidence in a short time for using the computers involving the range of purposes

ICTs helped in making teachers more efficient as they could plan their teaching time in a better way

Evident positive outcomes were there when teachers introduced ICT into the planning of their lessons

Scare technical support and various security issues notwithstanding, the teachers were quite enthusiastic to learn ICTs

ICTs also facilitated new mode of teacher-to-teacher cooperation

Increase of the intervention of government in the education of technology

The policy of the government has always been the same for any kind of in-service agenda. In-service agenda is a specialized lecture wherein the professionals talk about the case studies and the researches concerning the work for the other people in the group of their peers. It is a key constituent of education of medical for pharmacists, physicians, and other medical professionals. Additionally, only specialized and very few number of teachers are selected from the school for training and thereafter, again these teachers after getting trained would further teach their peers and colleagues. The only problem that was faced by the teachers was that they were always running out of time and could not however, be released from their work of teaching others due to which they were unable to dedicate themselves to training completely. Besides this, these teachers used to be the chief players of the academic technology agenda in the school, due to which they were loaded up with the responsibilities of their school when technology came into picture. Plus, they had to resolve the queries of the students, administrators, and teachers; hence, they hardly had time to devote it for their training classes, due to which they felt deprived of self-confidence when it came to employing technology in their classes (Batane, 2006).

Giving appropriate time to Teachers for absorbing new technology

Added this, another critical factor was insufficient time due to which the teachers felt it difficult to use technology in their classes. The documentation of available facts state that it was due to the lack of time that the teachers were not able to use technology. They found it difficult to attend the sessions of training along with the workshops, hardly had the time to develop required research and development on different equipments and software, barely found out time to interact with peers regarding what would work for them or what would not concerning the use of new resources etc. Teachers were already running short of time, and learning new technology to use it in their classes became more tedious for them (Kaino, 2004).

In addition to this, when it comes to discussing the requirement of the teachers, the stress is on offering training for a shorter period of time in order to familiarize the teachers with the use of explicit application and motivate general literacy of computers. It is for very less number of times that the policy discussions have taken place on the issue of relation between the role of the teacher and the technology.

Proper advancement of the software of E-learning

There is a need to develop appropriate and user friendly E-learning software. The popularity of Open Source systems, especially those developed in South Africa is clear from this, as is the complete absence of some proprietary systems that are popular in other parts of the world, such as Fronter. The over-riding conclusion to be drawn from this evidence is that the majority of those claiming to be using e-learning are not using an integrated formal learning management system at all, but are rather using basic digital technologies to enhance their learning, more often than not interpreting e-learning simply as accessing information from the Web. Thus, the best suggestion for this gap is to either develop or seek the best e-learning products in the western markets. There is a strong need to have particularly high level of sophistication in the usage of e-learning among users of e-learning in Botswana.

Another option is to involve the prospective users of the e-learning software in the process of development. This would ensure the right content and the right format for the users. The developers would be able to 'bounce' their alpha versions of the software with the targeted users. The feedback from this group can be applied in the beta version, ensuring that there is minimum phase out between the product features and the expectations from the product. Another advantage from this exercise would be a motivation for the users to effectively use the software as it was created with their participation.

Developing and controlling an Education Management Information System (EMIS)

In order to have any system work effectively, it is important to incorporate the feedback mechanism. The development and implementation of an Education Management Information System (EMIS) is required so that the success of any kind of inventiveness in ICT can be gauged and proper step can be taken in the same regard.

The EMIS system can be monitored by the competent authority in the Ministry of Education or as formed by the Government of Botswana. The EMIS can be developed as a dynamic system which means that it will receive the real time data from the various education centres. The EMIS would have capability to generate the reports on a frequent, regular and 'as desired' basis. The role of the authority would be to access the dynamic EMIS and suggest or take appropriate actions.

Implementing a follow-up mechanism

Then there was a problem of consistent follow-up due to which the teachers used to miss the knowledge that they were familiarized with in the previous session. Due to which as per Alden, teachers were required to have an in-depth and protracted help not only when it came to good use of technology but in their attempts as well to incorporate technology in their set of courses. In addition, the one-time training that was offered at the workshops was insufficient to endow the teachers with the required skills that they needed to incorporate into their teaching method.

Development and execution of solutions that is low in cost

Botswana is not a rich western nation which can invest as much budget in the implementation of new technology in the field of education. Instead, if these implementations are to be done, these have to be cost effective. The value of the educational technology is recognized and appreciated by the educationists for the 'Massification' of the education in a uniform way.

As the EFA Global monitoring report team study (EFA, 2010) shows, the effects of the financial crisis, which affected the Global economy, is being seen on the education sector. This is due to the inability of the Governments of the countries to not able to meet the financial obligations for the new education programmes including ICT. Thus, it becomes more than necessary to implement low cost ICT solution in Botswana instead of trying to implement a solution which does not start at all. The report mentions that 72 million children are still out of school due to the combination of slow economic growth and poverty. The budget pressures on the Government complicate this and hence the gains from the good work done earlier may be eroded.

Another study on the review of best practices in ICT in Africa concludes that at the face of difficulty in implementation and high cost involved, low technological solutions and practices are an effective first step for the immediate need fulfilment for educational needs in Africa (P. Lynch, 2003)

There are various views, though. Nigeria, for example, tended to emphasise the way in which such platforms can support the 'Massification' of education, South Africa feels motivational factors and the opportunities that they provide for an enhanced learning experience. There are also diverse views about the costs of implementation of these systems. Advocates of Open Source solutions, especially those from South Africa tend to suggest that they can 'reduce the cost of current face to face learning', whereas those from other countries where costs of electricity and connectivity are high, or institutions are tied into proprietary systems, suggest that such solutions can be much more expensive than traditional modes of teaching (E-learning Africa, 2009).

As the similarity between Botswana is more similar to Nigeria than South Africa, a safe analogy can be drawn. Thus, development of ICT in Education in Botswana would be supporting 'massification' of the education rather than 'reduce the cost of face to face learning'.

Hence, there is a strong need to effectively develop and implement the solutions which are low cost and easy to implement. Following were the suggested solutions, which were fundamentally focused on using the existing infrastructure and minimise the development of new systems, wherever possible.

Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) in Urban Slums. Radio and television lessons can be leveraged to broadcast lessons in more effective ways other than the print media. Botswana has two radio stations. One of the channels is a national channel while the other one is a commercial channel. The public domain channel has a division largely for educational broadcast which can be deployed effectively.

Leveraging interactive technology. Computer interactive programs and on-line teaching can be encouraged. . In order to increase the access, CD-ROMs or internet can be leveraged for self-instructional material. Video conferencing can also be put to use for more interactive communication between educators and parents (Kuruba, 2005).

Leveraging the mobile technology. The examination of mobile phone penetration and usage also indicates that use of mobile technology for education in Botswana is feasible (Gillwald, 2005).

Offering Marketing Education by means of ICT to the segment of niche such as college dropouts, youth etc

The ICT can be effectively used in bridging the gap in the youth education as in a world that is increasingly connected and moving towards an information or Knowledge-based society, new ways of learning are crucial. In this context, learning skills go beyond learning through the formal education system. As many young people drop out of formal education, ICT can enhance vocational training for early school leavers or unemployed adults to help them to gain technical (Wagner, 2004).

The report (Wagner, 2004) on the ICT for providing the option of continuing education recommends following -

The concept of 'broader literacy' needs to be understood which is over and beyond the limited traditional understanding of the just functional reading and writing

There is an urgent need to integrate the education and ICT across various Government departments whether national or provincial

Identify the fine balance existing between new possibilities generated by ICT as well as the context in which the ICT is being brought in

The international organizations and various donors should appropriately influence the Government bodies for making favourable national policy decisions for the betterment of education

Conclusions

As discussed, the ICTs can play a major role in enhancing the level of education in Botswana. However, it is interesting to note that it is not only technology but also the human factor, which needs to be taken into consideration before designing and implementing an appropriate solution.

This chapter identified few solutions to the gaps identified in the previous chapter. The solutions are not only identified from the perspective of resolving the localised problems but a holistic solution was attempted with an appropriate feedback. This was done to ensure a cost effective and effective methodology.

Finally, the existing infrastructure was leveraged wherever possible so that there is no additional burden on the exchequer to implement the ICTs in Botswana's educational system.