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Introducing Blended Learning into Africa’s Recipe of Educational Success

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I contend that the educational system in Africa is ripe with reforms, both in terms of the physical infrastructure by means of which educational content is delivered and in terms of how education is in theory and in spoken form.

The main reason for the urgent need for educational reform in Africa is that the continent has millions of young, ambitious and potential learners who are facing monumental barriers to achieving basic education.

The United Nations (UN) has estimated that Africa has a very ‘youthful population’, with over 200 million people currently living on the continent aged between 18 and 34.

As the UN highlights in this study, this immense number of youthful population could be a source of great opportunity. With the right educational footing, these are the doctors, scientists, writers and engineers of the future and of their generation.

However, the UN notes, the continent’s youthful population growth into contributing to the economic growth in their respective countries has stagnated due to lack of jobs and educational opportunities. The report indicates that there’s pressure suppressed to this youthful number by their families. Most, especially young women have had to abandon their educational goals in order to feed or care for family members.

The domino effect is that such cases lead to acute dangers in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where huge swathes of youths join rebel groups for lack of leadership and career related opportunities which have proven to motivate young minds to study or take up a different way of life.

Another challenge in the current African education structure is the lack of high quality transport infrastructure where in most parts of the country learners are not able to reach schools within a reasonable timeline. Though Africa is home to some of the world’s top universities for instance the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Elsewhere, in some part of the continent such as in Niger, there is only one university to cater to thousands if not millions of would be students.

Even in one of the wealthiest countries such as South Africa, schools have been deemed to be lacking the necessary infrastructure to implement the nation’s admirable educational policies. The situation is worse in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural and/or desert areas where children and young people practically have no means of reaching a school in order to participate in conventional classroom teaching on a regular basis.

On the flipside, Africa is a continent which is highly internet literate. It often surprises my readers when they learn that even in the poorest parts of Africa, 70% of citizens own a mobile phone and that in general, communities in Sub-Sahara Africa are more likely to have an internet connection than to have adequate supplies of food and water.

In addition, young Africans are particularly engaged and entrepreneurial when it comes to developing and downloading smartphone apps. Though, when compared to statistics for app downloads in the rest of the world, the app market in Africa remains relatively untapped.

Currently, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana has the largest number of app downloaders. The challenge is to stimulate and develop this trend for it to take shape and develop into the Sub-Saharan part of the African continent.

All of this data on the current situation in Africa indicates that distance education(embracing everything from MOOC to m-learning based around smartphone apps, and from e-learning conducted via video streamed lectures to other types of online courses) is the way forward for Africa. If implemented correctly, e-learning strategies could surmount to infrastructure related success such as in the case demonstrated in the four countries and provide educational opportunities to Africa in large with its growing and youthful population.

This could open doors to adult learners who missed out on primary and/ or secondary education in their youth. The crucial aspect at the moment is to implement MOOC and other e-learning strategies correctly.

My research suggests that blended learning is the best way to go ahead with in e-learning.

Below is an evaluation of blended learning strategies which consist of how they can help young minds in Africans learn.

Blended learning: a working definition, what does it all mean?

Blended learning means a mixture of classical learning strategies and online education measures. As its name indicates, it is a ‘blend’ of online and offline learning techniques.

One great example of blended learning would be a university campus that allows students to stream some of their lectures online from any location of their choice. The Online Business School is an example of this approach. Located in UK, you can study from at home from all over the world, completely online. 

Another blended learning strategy which might combine online and offline distance education is whereby students are encouraged to access online resources in order to conduct their research. Students are allowed to submit essays and assessments and receive feedback by post.

These are just two examples of the ways in which different educational methods can be blended together. When implementing a blended learning strategy, the important thing is to ensure that the blend is specifically tailored to suit the needs of the individual learners and their environments. Video streamed lectures are less necessary in a university where students all live on campus and the infrastructure is provided by their government.

Further logic indicates that providing lectures which can be accessed online might have the effect of demotivating such students and depriving them access to a readily available embodied classroom experience. However, this type of distance education tool is perfect for learners in very remote areas who find it impossible to attend the lectures in person.

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Brian Kazungu

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Military Interventions Are Failing To Counter Extremist Insurgency

Sapien Sapien

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Military interventions have manifestly failed, time and time again, to be effective as regards counter insurgency. These interventions are adopted under the guise of some multilateral arrangements or with the disguised blessing or direct of the UNSC.

For context purposes, let’s start the discussion with the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, held under the blessings of an entire UNSC resolutions, Res 2472 that authorized AU member states to use military force to intervene and counter the Al Shebaab insurgency in 2007.

This military centric approach was to last, ostensibly for six months but has been renewed time and time again whilst the level of violence in Somalia and troop contributing countries has only but increased.

The recent Global Terrorism Index (2020) shows that Somalia is beset by instances of terrorism whilst numerous forays by Al Shebaab into Kenya (Westgate Shopping Mall and Garisa University Asymmetric terror attacks) proves that retributive violent incursions into troop contributing countries is a menace that can be seen to be a direct by-product of military centric approaches to regional crisis.

The events in the Niger Delta where France, probably per the doctrine of R2P has been militarily entangled highlights that this one size fits all approach to COIN is not effective as it is parroted to be

The Comminique released by SADC in Botswana also sought to address issues of troop contribution to Mozambique.

Therein lies the challenge. The triumvirate trio of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola, under the auspices of regional integration and national sovereignty intervened, militarily, in the DRC (Operation Sovereign Legitimacy) in 1998.

The intervention was directly responsible for the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy (Black Friday Market Crash), descent into anarchy and chaos of the hybrid post-colonial state, escalation of violence in the Great Lakes region and a rise in fragile states within the greater equator zone.

The proliferated increase in arms of war resulted in the emergence of warlord (e.g. Bosco Ndagana, Wamba dia Wamba) and subsequent assassination of LD Kabila.

The SADC led intervention did not manage to bring peace and stability into the war ravaged country yet 18 years after Zimbabwe pulled out of the Congo at the behest of SADC, the country is part of an agenda and international conspiracy to intervene again. No lessons learnt.

Any involvement of foreign troops in a COIN initiative is guaranteed to be a cataclysmic failure. The rapture and related chaos to follow gives traction to this analogy.

Hyper nationalism is clear. People generally despise foreign military presence.

The Sunni Insurgency of 2003-2013 in Iraq gave us good lessons. Despite being told and made to believe that foreign troops under the guise of the Bush Doctrine are going to be seeking to restore democracy which was alleged to have been masterbated upon by Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq said no to foreign occupation, rose up, took up arms and the resultant anarchy led to the emergency of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, founder of modern day IS.

The by-product of military intervention is clear:

  1. More gangs
  2. More anarchy
  3. Less stability
  4. More chaos
  5. More deaths
  6. Regional escalation

I will not even mention Libya and that NATO led intervention.

For context, the insurgency in Cabo Delgado is clearly LOCALIZED with the direct risk of escalating into a Boko Haram kind of scenario once foreign troops are involved.

Definitely Mozambique needs help but that help must be in the form of capacity building and enhancement programs aimed at ensuring that the country has got institutions and systems capable of muting in the bud the escalating violence.

There are many ways of engaging in COIN. Clearly, there is a need to mix COIN approaches by the Mozambicans themselves, the thrust being to put more emphasis on civilian centric approaches and gelling it with law enforcement thrust.

Cost of cooperation must be made high meaning that decapitation measures of attrition ought to be successfully implemented whilst respecting human rights. This has been done before.

We saw this in Sri Lanka. The 26 year old Tamil Insurgency wad muted by a home grown COIN thrust as directed by the Rajakpaksa Model.

No foreign troops were involved. The death of Prabakaran signaled the end of the insurgency. This is what SADC ought to appreciate.

Reprisal attacks in many of these porous bordered SADC states will make economies collapse. Imagine the negative ramifications say to tourism of one tourist resort center is attacked.

A more pragmatic way of doing it outside of the usage of guns and tanks is the institutional/law enforcement thrust

Definitely, the SADC Communique represents a dedicated belief in the efficacy of multilateralism to resolve domestic challenges but that again, has got its limits.

To understand these limits and thence predict prognosis, the Asymmetric Warfare Equation shall be used:-

The asymmetric warfare equation is thus

AW=Asymmetric Threat (AT) + Asymmetric Operations (AO) + Cultural Asymmetry (CA) + Asymmetric Cost (AC)

Simplified

AW= AT +AO + CA+AC

Are there any asymmetric operations currently underway in Moz? Yes!

  1. Diplomacy (EU etc.)
  2. Military (Wagner Group, Dyke et al)
  3. Economic sabotage (e.g. takeover of Mocimba de Pria port)

The last two aspects of the equation paint a gory picture as to cost of intervention.

Definitely, IPB (intelligence preparation of battlefield) already is making it clear that military centric COIN even per countries with strong defense budgets, shall be extreme.

Use Afghanistan and Boko Haram for there is definite similarities. As regards that, Zimbabwe does not have capacity, e.g. it needed SA engineers to help us rehabilitate broken infrastructure brought about by the asymmetric event, Idai.

What are the cultural issues per cultural asymmetry in the restive region of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique?

  1. Values (Islamic)
  2. Norms
  3. Rules
  4. Target population (demographics and structural issues indicate sympathy to the insurgency cause)

Thrust;

Is there an asymmetric threat in Mozambique? Yes

What form/kind?

  1. Terrorism
  2. Insurgency
  3. Information warfare
  4. Disruptive threats (Idai)
  5. Unknown threats e.g. Climate Change induced

We are alien to Islamic values. It will quickly escalate into a religious conflict. Check Armenia vs Azerbaijan and related alliances that are emerging.

What are the likely costs to be incurred by any intervention (AC)

  1. Cost of action (Indonesian incursion into East Timor costed an equivalent of 50% of its GDP. Forced to quit. Same as the Rhodesians and also operation sovereign legitimacy by Zim in DRC)
  2. Cost of defense

Prognosis of intervention:

POOR

Our border with Mozambique (+/-1000) is too long and porous for guerilla warfare to be defeated.

Our capacity ravaged due to sanctions and amplified vices such as corruption. Per doctrine we are ok but anything post that dololo (nothing).

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Foreign Nationals Welcome to Join South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC)

Brian Kazungu

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Johannesburg Regional Secretary for the African National Congress (ANC), Mr Dada Morero said that people from other countries are free to join ANC and participate in meetings, programmes and various campaigns of the party.

Mr Morero was responding to iniAfrica.com news on the issues of membership eligibility and fairness on discipline in the ANC in relation to foreign nationals who may choose to be members of the party.

“Foreign nationals may participate, however, they will not be eligible to vote in meetings but may participate in programmes, meetings and campaigns.” he said.

Asked on the capacity upon which they may participate in all these ANC activities, Mr Morero said that they can do so as volunteers since actual membership of the African National Congress is strictly for South Africans who possess a valid South African I.D and are eighteen years of age and above.

On the issue of discipline, he said that his party treats people with fairness in accordance with the constitution.

“All members are treated in accordance with the constitution. No one just gets expelled on the basis that they are not South African born.” He added.

Iniafrica.com in its quest to help people scattered across the African continent with the right information for decision making, is working on stories centred on civic, corporate and political literacy especially in line with business and political participation in African countries.

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