There is a strong belief that education is one of the way human beings can get out of poverty and other earthly troubles to become more responsible, empowered, value and conscious of the needs of the society. Since March 2020, COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on people’s lives, behavior, ecosystem and symbiotic relations that exist from various perspectives. Ricardo (2020) noted while the Covid-19 crisis has exposed the fragility of Australia’s higher education sector, it has also delivered positive outcomes that will endure long after campuses reopen. My students and I have found that seeing one another in our homes has taught us to be more human and aware of our differing personal circumstances. We’ve also learnt that it’s just as easy to organize a guest lecture from New “York or Barcelona as it is from Melbourne or Sydney; that Zoom is great for remembering everyone’s names; and that you need not be in the same city, state or even country as your students to lead a course. The sustainable development Goal 4: Quality education is a major focus in education for all countries. But most African countries despite the pandemic, quality of education offered as compared to the developing countries is still not at par. Several factors impact on quality key among them is the fact that it is second most populous content in the world. This can impact on quality and also on SDG Goal 1: No Poverty. Wekesa (2020) noted that parallels have been drawn between the current crisis and past crises of all kinds. Because the pandemic is both a health and economic problem, the global financial meltdown of 2007/08 has particularly shown an unnerving similarity. This was in reference to Africa where the pandemic showed the differences in governance and emergence uptake with hitches of unpreparedness and uncertainty in most circumstances.
Status of Education in Africa
In most developing countries, teacher preparation process, learners preparedness at all stages, infrastructure, quality, access, population, finances and teacher preparation has been some of the major bottlenecks among others Africa experiences. Scholars noted various areas of concern even before the pandemic and one of the most noted was education in crisis situations. The report further elaborates that in Africa the crisis in education are further confounded by military attacks on education institution; Those attacks and military use of schools and universities represent a huge threat for students and teacher’s security as they damage and destroy the few available school infrastructures. It lead to high drop-out rates, reduce enrollment and lower the teaching quality and the results. Girls are particularly negative affected as it exacerbates the challenges they already face to access education in conflict zones. (CESA 16-25 2016 – 2025 pp.8) There is need to generate an interest, more debates and research on how best this situation hampering education in Africa could be resolved during and after the pandemic. This will create new understandings and stakeholder pathways on how people engage and learn during crisis like COVID -19. The disruptions could be taken as assets and opportunities to create new frontiers especially in developing countries where the education systems need to be planned for and become more innovative to contract the various challenges hindering effective teaching and learning process. Incheon declaration (2015) noted the serious concerns in education like the fact that a large Proportion of the world’s out-of-school population live in conflict-affected areas, and that crises, violence and attacks on education institutions, natural disasters and pandemics continue to disrupt education and development globally. The corona pandemic is just one of the pandemics which has hit the education sector hence there is need; .. for education stakeholder to commit to developing more inclusive, responsive and resilient education systems to meet the needs of children, youth and adults in these contexts, including internally displaced persons and refugees. We highlight the need for education to be delivered in safe, supportive and secure learning environments free from violence. We recommend a sufficient crisis response, from emergency response through to recovery and rebuilding; better coordinated national, regional and global responses; and capacity development for comprehensive risk reduction and mitigation to ensure that education is maintained during situations. Incheon declaration (2015).pp 6-7 In Africa, most activities from social, political and economic stalled due to Coronavirus outbreak. The African Union (AU), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) officials stated that the coronavirus epidemic was an “existential war for the continent. In education sector, the situation may never be the same with over 1, 268,164,088(72%) of learners out of their institutions in over 177 countries in April 2020. These institutional closures, alongside hashtags like, lockdown, social distancing and stay at home requires new innovative approaches to conceptualize. The school in its own way is not only abuilding of ‘brick and mortar ‘but carry with it a lot of symbolic significance to the learners, teachers, parents and the community. Schools and other educational institutions are central to a number of people’s lives. Stromquist (2018), indicated that, contemporary society makes it imperative that all of us have access to formal education, with the result that most children and youth spend many years in schools. Further, adults who serve in them sees the schools as much more than a place of work as they double as vital places to shape the mental horizons of new generations, to convey both wide and deep knowledge, to foster values that produce healthy and stable societies, and to promote solidarity and avoid rivalry and hatred. Planning for education in this pandemic requires three approaches. The first is a stop gap approach to ensure Maslow before Bloom, safety and survival first before formal education, during this first school closure. The second approach will include carefully considered long-term solutions that address the inequities in education that are exposed when schools are not physically accessible. The third approach will spark pedagogical innovation towards blended learning in all schools and other education institutions for inclusive and equitable education for all. These approaches proved crucial during the pandemic when various approaches had to be utilized to make learning realistic though with various degrees of success and failure. The COVID -19 pandemic saw the role teachers carry and the various responsibilities attached to their responsibility. In most countries in Africa school classrooms have remained remarkably consistent over time and acts as geographical space where learners and the teacher converge. The teacher basically interact with the learners in the enclosed environment. During the pandemic, school children lost access to their teachers, their classmates, and the school environment which they have been familiar with. One parent respondent had this to stay ,’‘ in the slums in Nairobi County in Kenya Nairobi ,it’s hard and expansive to have the children at home as they eat and play a lot’. Another respondent, a male university student aged 21 years old indicated that, ‘the pandemic has made them to relook at education and skills acquisition. He has taken time to work on income generating project during the pandemic and has put education a side for a while. This scenarios creates challenges for the strategies which various frameworks have been working on to improve education in countries in Kenya.To implement the 2030 Education Agenda (Incheon declaration 2015), the focus were on the relevance of teaching and learning, right through to higher education. This involves adapting curricula and pedagogies, training teachers and drawing on new knowledge from the field of cognitive sciences. This adaption could have worked well for teachers during COVID-19.The need to challenge the entrenched model of the school classroom has slightly been integrated in few countries in Africa. Such challenges could not allow proper in mentation of online learning, remote learning and blended learning in most countries especially in Sub Saharan Africa and other countries where systems were not in place. The challenge on remote learning was expounded during COVID 19 as follows; It’s a problem facing millions across the African continent. “There are approximately 250 million students that are sheltering in place or quarantined or under emergency orders or just can’t be in classrooms,” and “It’s an enormous amount – 75% percent of them – as a consequence of the abrupt nature of the shutdowns, don’t have access yet to the innovative remote learning tolls” former U.S. ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard. During COVID -19, some of the strategies and approaches used in availing education to the leaners has been through homeschooling, radio, the television, remote learning, online learning, distance learning, blended learning, gamification and the like. Radio has been used to deliver education to most countries in Africa for a long time for instance, in the Benin Republic, radio was used to educate rural peasant farmers in the 1960s (Nwaerondu and Thompson,). The process involved the organization of small listening groups, called “Radio Clubs,” formation of national and departmental committees, use of village chiefs as presidents of the radio clubs and the use of animators as group leaders. The potential of radio to motivate listeners to take action, modify behaviour, and undertake activities is evident in the literature reviewed thus far. In some cases, radio has been used effectively to advise populations of new government policies and to encourage discussion, feedback, and eventual support for new measures. Radio has also been used to promote community development, innovation, and other programs in which self-help and community participation are essential (Bryam, Kaute & Matenge, 1980; Cassirer, 1977; Punasiri & Griffin, 1976). During the corona pandemic, countries like Kenya used Radio for education purposes but especially at low levels of learning where various programmes were prepared by subject teachers to meet the demand of continued learning during the pandemic. But this was not sustainable and both leaners and teachers were not adequately prepared for the activity. In total, over 18 million students in Kenya have been affected by the closure of schools. An extended period of closure will impact children’s wellbeing and have a long-term impact on inequality, as the most vulnerable families may not send children back to school; UNICEF is focusing on providing the most vulnerable children with access to learning, including those in informal settlements, refugees, and children with disabilities,” UNICEF Kenya Chief of Education Marilyn Hoar says. “We are supporting out-of-classroom learning on radio, TV and online, and informing parents how to access lessons. We are also preparing guidelines for the safe reopening of schools’. (Brown and otieno pp.2) In china the situation was not far from Africa as one Chines parent reported to that they are living in China with their children for the past several weeks in the beginning of January 2020, the children were confined to their homes, working and going to school remotely. But they have some experience on how to stay reasonably sane and productive through the challenges of being confined indoors for weeks on end (HuffPost, 2020).Many respondents in this study indicated several months staying with their children at home during the pandemic months .This at times created a sense of uncertainty and other family issues and vices in the family like early pregnancy, drug abuse and others were noted to be quite rampant during the pandemic. In Kenya, all educational institutions were closed down under the directive of the prudential order in mid-March 2020. The institutions at all levels were then tasked with looking for alternative ways and means of ensuring that learning continues remotely. Though the position of remote learning is still bleak in Africa as compared to other Countries as less than 25 percent of low-income countries currently provide any type of remote learning, and of these, the majority are using TV and radio. In contrast to developed world where, close to 90 percent are providing remote learning opportunities, with almost all offering services online. In adapting and adopting new learning and teaching paradigms, the education sector had to leverage the assets of homebased learning and as they stay and work at home, rather than trying to recreate school. The Remote mode of learning is capable of bringing private meaningful learning experiences that can connect to leaners home environment, interest and local identities and also use the available devices in the home environment. It may come with its merits and demerits but because the instructor is not immediately present in front of the class as leaners in Kenya are used to, some necessary adjustments had to be done by the education institutions and the learners (pupils/students).In higher education, especially universities, existing polices had to be redrafted to include online learning pedagogy as an emergency pedagogy. The new teaching approaches received mixed feelings from policy makers, service providers, students and other stakeholders. But to save on time and normalize the situation, strategies were set and remote learning implemented in most educational institutions. Learning continued both in synchronous and asynchronous modes and institutions were able to cope with the termly and semester requirements alongside providing reading resources remotely as done by the University of Nairobi through utilization of electronic resources with thousands of learning resources available remotely. These initiatives were lauded by majority of education stakeholders as remote learning and homeschooling concepts have been embraced at relevant levels. From the instructor’s perspectives, remote learning has its challenges like lack of well-defined infrastructure systems, lack of adequate preparation for the sudden charge, having both students and instructors at home same time , lack of internet connectivity, students preparedness ,cost of teaching and preparation for online teaching, online assessment and evaluation nightmare among others. For students, attitude change is still needed, lack of reasonable and relevant devices to facilitate the learning process, some from nomadic communities are notable to be in one place during scheduled classes, students with disabilities losing in the online process, lack of internet connectivity in rural areas, no preparation on migration from face to face to online learning and others. For institutions, the move from school to remote learning comes with several challenges like cost, policies to implement it, structures and facilities, staff training, relevant and available resources, student’s diversity, examination issues online and others. Educational institutions have somehow weathered the storm in meeting the demands for enhanced teaching and learning using an array of devices during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. These achievements may change the education system in the country for some years to come with learners utilizing and appreciating the value of digital devices they have in their hands like mobile phone, smart phones, laptops, tablets and others. For institutions, the whole process of learning and teaching though tedious, will drastically change to incorporate new inventions and innovations which will aid and assist in offering quality, relevant and competitive education. This will go alongside help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all in low-income economies wherever and whenever they are in time. This study researched on how education systems in Africa reacted to COVID-19 in terms of learner and teacher preparation during the pandemic, use of technology for teaching and learning; role of education stakeholders during crisis, availability of relevant resources and financial challenges. Another key component of this chapter is assessment. Webber (2012, p. 202) defines assessment as playing the role of evaluating a student’s comprehension of factual knowledge. More compressive definition states that assessments are activities designed primarily to foster student learning. Webbers definition of assessment came handy during COVID -19 pandemic as learner-centred assessment activities included “multiple drafts of written work in which faculty provided constructive and progressive feedback to students as they continued with remote learning though was more of a challenge in countries like Kenya where there is poor network in rural areas and the students too lack electronic devices for online assessment.