This research cluster is interrogating the effects of global edtech regimes on key disadvantaged groups: refugees, internally displaced persons, nomadic groups and women. This work will build on existing research including a Mastercard Foundation-funded project exploring pathways to higher education for refugees in Lebanon and Uganda with the School of Social and Political Science; current GCRF-funded research on digital education for internally displaced persons and nomadic groups in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda; and past partnership with USAID on research on the gender digital divide (USAID 2019). Given the region’s ‘young population profile, low investment in education and training, emerging skill shortages in key sectors and the importance of new technologies’ (Ayentimi and Burgess 2019), Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda are particularly susceptible to the erosion of educational autonomy consistent with calls for educational transformation to service the global imaginaries of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). The discourse of 4IR is representative of a growing wave of edtech policy, discourse, and practice increasingly entangling education in sub-Saharan Africa in commercial activity.
This research programme explores alternatives to this erosion by exploring community-owned internet networks (CN) and participatory models of educational development. It interrogates the role that community networks might play in extending higher education into underserved (largely rural) locales and key disadvantaged groups; it will do so in partnership with existing community networks, universities, and commercial organisations from Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. This programme advances a research and development agenda exploring a renewal of the local alongside digital and educational inclusion.
This project is lead by Dr Michael Gallagher along with four international co-investigators. Dr Maryam J. Ismail is Dean of the School of Education at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA). Dr Joel Mtebe is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science as well as Director at the Center for Virtual Learning at the University of Dar es Salaam. Dr Mtebe maintains strong connections to the Centre for Climate Change Studies (CCCS) and the Centre for Communication Studies (CCS). Dr Rovincer Najjuma is a Lecturer and Curriculum Specialist at Makerere University and author of several works around the adoption and use of ICTs in education in Uganda, particularly in revitalising educational opportunity in post-conflict areas. Professor Adamu Zoaka Hassan is the Director of the Distance Learning Centre at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria as well as the Deputy Dean of the Graduate School. He has held leadership positions throughout his 29 years at Ahmadu Bello University and is well suited to lead the Nigerian portion of this research cluster.
The Edinburgh team comprises:
Dr Michael Gallagher, Centre for Research in Digital Education, Moray House
Dr Jean-Benoit Falisse, Sociology and Political Science, Centre for African Studies, School of Social and Political Science
For more information, visit the project website