Today I’m going to share parts of an article I wrote that was just published about the potential of new health and education technologies to change our world #positively, and especially to create innovative, more impactful ways to help the world’s poorest and most marginalized people. Some of these new technologies have great potential to uplift future generations, if the right decisions are made now…
As most of you here know, I am a co-chair with Melinda Gates and Hon Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati of Indonesia on the Pathways for Prosperity Commission which just released a new report today called “Positive Disruptions: Health and Education in a Digital Age”: https://
One key finding: There needs to be more listening to people on the ground at the community level to help guide Smart decision-making about tech choices and investments in schools and health facilities. If you’re interested, please share your ideas. I would appreciate your input here. Your voices will be heard. Forward it to others who might have ideas, too. Let’s talk!
My op-ed (opinion-editorial article) is a bit long so I’ll share the link if you want to read it all. The title is: “It’s time to create positive disruption in Africa!” Here goes:
“Africa’s tech entrepreneurs are generating a global buzz with home-grown start-ups now being mentioned in the same breath as the likes of AirBnB and Uber. Some see emerging technologies as a threat but I see the day coming when visionary young African tech-preneurs will also find themselves launching billion dollar unicorn IPOs with the potential not just to create wealth for themselves but transform the lives and livelihoods of their customers, communities, and even nations.
Last year six African ventures made it onto Time Magazine’s 50 Genius Companies List. They include a Kenyan mobile battery-powered Wi-Fi modem bringing the internet to remote areas, a Ghanaian platform using blockchain to help create land purchase records, and a Nigerian startup providing expectant mothers with pregnancy-related information and contacts.
Exciting tech-enabled innovations like these are springing up across the African continent, spearheaded by a young generation with solution-mindsets, launching edgy start-ups and increasingly using tech skills to tackle some of the continent’s most intractable challenges, such as quality health and education for all.
However, “smart” questions need to be answered – particularly around how countries can bring digital solutions to scale so they reach the poorest and most marginalised, not just the privileged few. . .
One key question that we and policymakers across the world must increasingly ask is this:
# What comprises a “good” education in the digital age?
# What jobs are our education systems preparing young people to do?
__I have long argued that financial literacy, tech skills, and entrepreneurship classes should be taught before young people graduate from secondary school.
The (Pathways) report – Positive Disruptions: Health and Education in a Digital Age considers examples of tech being used in health and education in Africa and beyond. While it finds many success stories, too often, the research reveals that new technology is introduced. . .without adequate analysis of the problem they’re supposed to solve and the wider management systems they’re supposed to transform.
__Systems and processes may not sound exciting but they matter!
An example is Peru’s “One Laptop per Child” programme. In spite of heavy investment, it had little effect on children’s math and reading test scores as it wasn’t supported by necessary changes across the education system; in particular the teachers were not really included in a consultative way.
In Kenya, on the other hand, they’ve had a lot of success with a national literacy programme called Tusome that uses digitised teaching materials and a tablet-enabled teacher feedback system. It’s boosted students’ learning performance by more than a quarter.
In Malawi, a personalised EdTech learning programme delivered via solar powered tablets by onebillion onecourse (who just won the Elon Musk Xprize for global education) is having a proven impact on math and literacy for children in grades one to three. It has also closed the gap between girls and boys in reading and math in first grade.
In health too, there are measurable impacts. In Uganda, the Mobile Vital Records System, a mobile web-based application has helped raise the proportion of births being registered from 28 to 70 per cent, helping authorities to track – and improve – individuals’ health.
And in Mali, digital monitoring and case-tracking tools used in a program designed by the non-profit Muso have cut child deaths in peri-urban areas where community health workers have used them to seek out the most vulnerable. . .
__Looking forward, it’s not just about the amount of money spent. Efficiency and sound strategy count for more than dollars. . .
In short, smart choices are required by citizens and policymakers alike, so millions of men, women and children who have been left behind, can have better access to better education, better health and get better jobs, thanks to innovations of the digital age.
#PositiveDisruption isn’t just a hashtag. It’s an imperative for future generations across the world.”
Now it’s your turn. Do you have ideas of positive ways technology can help your own world, right where you live? Your schools, your hospitals? What needs to be done better?
If you want to read the full op-ed, here’s the link:https://
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa