By Ifeoma Asika
At the Extra-Ordinary Session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology held virtually on April 30, 2020, HP and the African Union Commission (AUC) agreed to synergise to expand digital learning opportunities for all youths in 55 AU Member States. Both entities have agreed to collaborate on various initiatives including exchange of information and expertise, as well as promotion of online platforms to support digital learning.
Africa has the youngest population in the world with more than 400 million young people aged between 15 to 35. Almost all countries across the continent have introduced some form of nation-wide school and university closures to contain the Covid-19 virus.
This means that there are a very large number of children and young people that are not receiving any form of schooling. At this meeting, Managing Director and Vice President of HP Africa Elisabeth Moreno presented HP’s Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurship (HP LIFE) and BeOnline programmes, two unique online learning platforms that can be utilised by ministers to support schools and educators in their distance learning endeavours.
The two online learning platforms will contribute towards the 1 Million By 2021 initiative of AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahammat which seeks to provide opportunities to young Africans from the 55 member states in the areas of Education, Employment, Engagement and Entrepreneurship (the 4Es). It is against this backdrop that the AU and HP are prioritizing digital learning opportunities for African youth.
“Education is a fundamental human right that should be available regardless of a person’s age, class, race, gender or location,” said Moreno. “To that end, HP has pledged to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025, as well as adding 1 million users to HP LIFE between 2016-25 – a commitment that aligns with the AU’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA), which aims to change Africa’s education and training systems to meet the knowledge, competencies, skills, innovation and creativity required to nurture core values and promote sustainable development on a continental level.”
Today, technology can support new styles of learning. PCs and tools designed for education can offer students flexibility of time, place, and pace of learning, whether in or out of the classroom, or in a blend of environments. HP and AU joint efforts have the potential to uplift access of education and opportunities for career work and economic growth. The collaboration aims to promote innovations that hold the best potential to make lifelong learning a reality.
“The partnership with HP will accelerate our education response to Covid-19 especially and have long-term benefits. I implore AU Member States to make the most of these opportunities as this partnership means young people can access educational opportunities at no cost for the rest of this academic year. This partnership speaks directly to H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat’s 1 Million by 2021 initiative by providing educational opportunities which will assist in positioning our youth to venture into the entrepreneurial sector,” Commissioner of the AUC Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor said.
BeOnline is a programme that was developed by HP in partnership with Classera, the leader in Learning Management Systems and Mirai, a learning innovations group focusing on learning strategy and digital pedagogy, to assist the endeavours of the education community. In line with the most recent regional governments’ directives for distance learning, the programme aims to support schools and universities in establishing a fully-fledged virtual learning environment, by providing expertise and tools at no cost.
The HP Foundation has created its global programme HP LIFE to provide business and IT skills training free of charge to people all over the world. The online community and more than 30 self-paced courses are designed to help users develop business and IT skills in their own time and at their own pace. The courses are modular, interactive, and full of information and practical exercises that enable users to grow their business skills.