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Is there such a thing as the “average Joe” or “average Joanne” in South Africa? This country is one of the most culturally rich and diverse countries in the world, home to eleven different official languages and a population made of of 55 million people all from radically different backgrounds. From Afrikaans-speakers and IsiXhosa speakers, to Protestants, Muslims and Catholics, the diversity at play in the Rainbow Nation makes identifying the “typical South African” a very difficult task indeed.



It's not just diversity which makes the South African “average Joe” tricky to pinpoint. The country is also one of the most economically unequal on Earth with one of the highest Gini coefficients (which measures income inequality) in the world. In real terms this means that 60% of the population has an yearly income lower than R42,000, while 2.2% of the population earns more than R360,000 every year.

With such wide social gaps, a multicultural population and extreme inequality, it's very difficult to conceive of the average South African.

One size doesn’t fit all

These factors may be hugely problematic on a grander, human scale, but they also make life somewhat trickier for marketers and advertisers in the country. Without an easy average customer to identify and target, marketing can rapidly go off piste, frequently failing to strike the right chord with a very broad South African audience.

With this in mind, many brands now invest significant time in researching their consumers in order to design products, services and advertising campaigns which are bang on the money. With no one typical South African consumer to point to, honing promotions is no mean feat.

Buyer personas from national brands

Wonga is one brand which has invested resources into painting a clearer picture of their target market in South Africa, allowing the company to appeal to the right consumers, providing a service which meets their needs, addresses their concerns and appeals to them.

While this data is specific to the short term lender, it can also be harnessed by brands occupying a similar niche,with the same target consumers in mind. So what does Wonga's average South African consumer look like?

Wonga's “average” customer is a 34 year old English-speaking single male, with no dependents and a gross monthly income of R25,000+. He lives in Gauteng and works in retail, manufacturing, telecoms, finance, transportation or health. He uses a smartphone or tablet for most of his digital activities, using an Android or Windows device with a Chrome browser. He mostly consumes social media online, while also watching TV and reading about travel when on the internet.

Diversity in the data

Of course this isn't the only customer profile which can be distilled from Wonga's data. In fact, much of the company's data reflects the Rainbow Nation's diversity by displaying real variety. For instance:

  • 52% of consumers were male while 48% were female
  • 27% of consumers earned over R25,000 monthly, while 21% earned R5,001-10,000 and 20% earned R10,001-15,000
  • Although 41% of consumers spoke English, for many it was a second language

So does a South African “average Joe” really exist? It would appear not. If brands want to finesse their approach to marketing and grow their brand, they should take note of this fact and take time to get to know their target demographics.

Written By : Stephen G Davies, MSc.
Africa is a continent which is filled with many young men and women, some of which have the aspirations and potential to pursue a career in the medical field. But there are some clear barriers preventing many young Africans from doing so, stemming back to the setup of medical education in Africa.
Africa is rife with major diseases and illnesses and is in desperate need of a vast amount of medical professionals and physicians to tackle the problem head on. This, however, is simply just not achievable, with many of the flaws and barriers to the educational system preventing the medical educative system from producing home-grown professionals.
Africa Medtech


But there is perhaps a potential solution.
With the advancement of technology in the modern age, has come the ability to deliver an online education to impoverished continents such as Africa, a process which could supplement the medical education setup in Africa.
The advent of e-learning, m-learning and distance education, in which an interactive course can be provided to young Africans via the Internet from universities and institutions around the world, may be the answer to Africa's medical woes.

The existing Medical education system:
The medical education system varies from nation to nation, dependent inevitably on their economic capabilities.
South Africa, as the wealthiest country in sub-Sahara Africa has approximately eight medical schools, which have around 8,5000 students per annum and 1,300 graduates per year.
The South African medical schools are all institutions which are government funded and each school receives a subsidy from the government, on top of its student tuition fees. This is a system based on a British model and is reasonably successful, as is perhaps to be expected of the wealthiest nation in sub-Sahara Africa.
Kenya's medical education system is less prosperous. Kenya has just two medical schools, with the majority of the county's doctors and medical professionals being produced from the University of Nairobi.
Both schools are government funded but Kenya finds itself struggling to financially provide the sufficient means to produce medical professionals, so much so that there was the introduction of self-sponsored medical students.
Nigeria, being the most populated nation of Black Africans, started the process of medical education in 1948, with the establishment of the University college hospital, which was a branch of the University of London.
From then on in, four generations of medical institutions have developed, but with the curriculum remaining largely the same. When the curriculum for medical courses adapted around the world, Nigeria's stood still and did not and any later attempts to improve the syllabus and teacher training methods failed.
As a result, Nigeria's medical education system is in dire straits and in desperate need of updating and modernising.
Thus, the medical education system in African nations is varied but there are clear limits to how many medical professionals they can produce and to what quality.
It is clear that there are changes that need to put in place.

E-learning- the solution?
The whole concept of e-learning and m-learning is to bring a distance education and online courses, via the internet, to places that would not otherwise have access to such opportunities.
Dr Yaw Adu-Sarkodie, a professor in clinical microbiology has heralded the use of e-learning to supplement the medical education system in Africa, suggesting: "what I see of the e-learning platform is that it is a limitless thing".
Many African medical specialists have suggested that the implementation of edtech and online courses will enable class sizes to increase dramatically in a short space of time. Crucially, medical professionals have suggested that e-learning initiatives will change the styles and approaches that African students take in the medical sphere and beyond. This could be potentially significant in mobilising a medical workforce that as of now is outdated and cannot produce results.
There has already been some evidence of distance education and edtech assisting the medical education system in Africa. Through the Medical Education Partnership, the US has sought to provide help to Sub-Saharan Africa, utilising edtech and e-learning initiatives.
Such online courses include the use of video lectures, in line with the interactive e-learning initiative, particularly geared around exam preparation and practical skills that are absolutely essential to becoming a medical professional.
Selected medical institutions were given access to online medical courses and e-learning, in order to supplement and support the medical education curriculum in these various medical schools. The experts suggest, however, that edtech can only work, provided that there is the right fit with institutions that have the required technological capacity.
E-learning then, could be the solution to African's chronic medical education problem.

MCAT and USMLE:
In line with the US initiative to assist African nations in the training and developing of their medical professionals, US tests such as MCAT and USMLE have been introduced to assist with the medical exam preparation process.
The MCAT is a medical/science related aptitude test, designed to equip medical students to apply information quickly and precisely and generally examines the practical ability of the student to become the professional.
The USMLE is a test which requires more prior knowledge and preparation and is very much content driven. Both of these initiatives are employed in and work in medical institutions across the US and have been extended to such African nations as Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

Mhealth:
Mhealth is the process in which smartphones are used to help educate and inform students in the medical field. The rise in mobile phone use across Africa has meant that many young men and women have instant access to a learning platform, literally at their very fingertips.
The use of text messages and SMS is a very useful tool, which enables those in remote areas to access information that will be beneficial for the learning process and ultimately help in enabling many more people to gain sufficient medical qualifications.
This method of teaching, alongside e-learning in the traditional ways as mentioned before, could help to revolutionise the way in which students learn and are taught. If applied correctly and overcoming some infrastructural barriers, e-learning could help to salvage the medical education system across Africa.


Conclusion:
It is clear the medical education setup in Africa is in desperate need of reform, with widespread disease and poverty but an inability, both structurally and financially, to mobilise a sufficient health/ medical workforce.
Could e-learning be the solution to updating and modernising a currently failing and outdated medical education system in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond?

Visit apps-for-learning.com to find out more about the role of edtech in Africa, feel free to share this article on Facebook and Twitter and comment any thoughts you might have below!


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Today, new technologies including information communication technology (ICT) and e-learning have become the driving force in the education sector in Kenya. E-learning is very important in helping people to access education easily. It allows learners to carry out their daily activities and learn at the same time.


edtech


In the modern world, lifelong learning is becoming an important concept. In this context, people have to advance their skills to fit in the dynamic work places.
E-learning allows one to advance their skills without taking long work leaves.

As the African society continually embrace modern technology, traditional forms of pedagogy in higher learning institutions are failing to meet the societal needs.

The Situation of e-Learning in East Africa
The rise of mobile technology in Africa has become one of the most revolutionary steps in the recent technological growth.  Many people are now using smartphones and iPhones. Major communication companies like Safaricom and Telkom Kenya are providing a stable connection to the internet.
The Kenyan government has also made a major step in installing fibre optic connections to major cities across the nation. Thus, fast and stable internet connection has motivated many people to embrace e-learning as a new method of learning.

E-learning policies in the Kenyan universities are at its infant-stage. Majority of these institutions lack senate approved e-learning policies to guide the needed structured implementation, thus, only 32% of the lecturers and 35% of students use e-learning in Kenya. Besides, the number of online courses offered is approximately 10% of all the courses.
The nature of the material used in this form of learning is not interactive as it entails uploaded lecture notes. For instance, 87% of the materials used in online lectures are simply lecturing notes.
In this regard, it becomes apparent that most of the universities in Kenya and East Africa at large lack a requisite ICT infrastructure and skills. However, a number of private and public universities have made tremendous steps towards implementing e-learning technology. Fewer institutions that have used e-learning have proved it to be a successful mode and that the benefits outweigh the challenges.

In Tanzania, the case is similar to Kenya. The implementation of e-learning is still low despite various opportunities provided by the open source technology and supportive environment facilitated by the government. However, some institutions like Dar Es Salaam University have managed to implement e-learning platforms as WEBCT and Blackboard. These platforms are e-learning proprietary software. Other universities such as the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) and Mzumbe University have good ICT structures, but the implementation of e-learning is still minimal.

Successful Cases of e-Learning
Can e-learning be a successful learning method in (East) Africa? The answer to this question is yes.
There are some Africans who have gathered enough courage to use e-learning and achieved their higher degrees successfully. These examples are a proof that e-learning can be an effective method of learning in East Africa.

E-learning success story #1: Dr. Henry Barasa
Dr. Henry Barasa is a good example of a physics student who used e-learning to complete his Master's degree.
Being a full-time lecturer in Masinde Muliro University in Kakamega town, Barasa did not have enough time to pursue his Master's Degree. He enrolled for a Master's in Atomic Physics in Dar Es Salaam University in Tanzania. Through WEBCT, Barasa could access all the required learning materials; communicate with lecturers and other students. He also accessed all exams through the online platform.
A thought-provoking aspect is that he never took an education leave, but managed to balance the two. For the case of experiments, he carried them out from Kenya and sent results online.
The case of Henry Barasa shows the effectiveness of e-learning, and thus, Kenyans can embrace this new method of learning and acquire their degrees as they continue with their work. Even for the case of higher degrees, it is possible to attain them through e-learning.

E-learning success story #2: Kelvin Omondi
Kelvin Omondi is another example of an effective e-learning. Having been brought up in the Mathare slums, his parents did not have the ability to take him to a good high school. Through a Nairobi-based organization, he got a chance to attend a national high school and pass well in his studies.
But, he lacked the financial capacity to complete his degree in Bachelor of Commerce at Kenyatta University. However, the University had established an online learning program, which was cheaper. Kelvin opted for this option.
The university provided him with an iPhone, which he used to access his learning material. The study program provided him with an option to work and learn. He managed to raise his university fee and graduated with a second upper-class degree.
From this example, other Africans can learn that e-learning is an effective method of learning that the poor can use to access quality education. Most of the Africans have poor backgrounds; hence, lack the ability to access higher education. However, e-learning is an effective method since it is cheaper as it only entails tuition-fee. Learners can raise the fee through part-time and full-time jobs.

E-learning success story #3: Rashid Mihamud
Rashid Muhamud is another example of a learner who completed his diploma through an e-learning program. Rashid comes from Mwanza town in Tanzania.
Just like Kelvin, he had inadequate resources to access higher education. He managed to raise some money from odd jobs, which he used to purchase a smart phone. He later enrolled in an e-learning diploma program with Dar Es Salaam University.
Despite the fact that he was a hawker, he managed to raise money for his tuition fee. Who could think that a hawker can finance his university education? It seems an impossible case, but e-learning has made it possible for Rashid.
Currently, he owns a private company that employs over fifteen youths.
This example shows that e-learning is the most effective method that can promote access to effective learning even to the poor. Precisely, it is a cheap way of learning that Africans can embrace to transform their lives. In this regard, it is evident that this new form of learning has helped some Africans to overcome learning challenges.
M-learning is one of the relatively new applications which use the new internet and mobile phone based technologies to improve the access to some basic needs or skills, such as medical education, app based language learning or cheap online money transfers.

Since distance education plays such an important role in the further development of the African education systems, more and more regional African edtech providers offer locally adapted products, such as online courses or tutoring. Many of these African startups are presented on apps-for-learning.com.

Online courses – Boost your skills now!
For more information about this important and exciting educational market, visit my apps-for-learning.com site. Alternatively, if you wish, contact me directly today: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Whether you are a student or teaching professional, we specialize in mobile education within Africa and will be pleased to help you with your enquiry.

By the way: If you are a medical student, try online medical courses as wonderful support for your medical exam preparation! They have a proven record.

Enjoy the article and let me know what you think by posting your comment below. I would be grateful if you also and share this post with friends and colleagues.

Your e-learning and online courses specialist,

Jens Ischebeck, www.apps-for-learning.com

More and more learners are turning to online courses that enable them to participate in primary, secondary and tertiary education over the web and at a distance from campus. Debates rage over how best to implement e-learning, particularly in regions such as Sub-Sahara Africa which are ripe for educational reform. In this article, I explain how blended learning works and why it is the ideal choice for the African continent. Finally, I formulate some effective strategies for rolling out these types of distance education schemes in Africa. This article will be of interest to anyone who wishes to learn more about the latest developments in edtech, and it is relevant both to teachers and lecturers and to learners themselves, as well as being of value to anyone running or wishing to set up an edtech company in Africa.
Edtech Africa

The educational situation in Africa: where we stand now.
I contend that the educational system in Africa is ripe for reform, both in terms of the physical infrastructure by means of which educational content is delivered and in terms of the ways in which education is theorised and spoken about. The main reason for the urgent need for educational reform in Africa is that the continent is full of a huge amount of young and ambitious learners (and potential learners) who are nevertheless facing some powerful barriers to achieving a traditional education. The UN has estimated that Africa has a very 'youthful population', with over 200 million people currently living on the continent who are aged between 18 and 34. As the UN highlights in this study, this immense youthful population could be a source of great opportunity: these young learners could become the doctors, scientists, writers and engineers of the future. However, the UN notes, the continent's youthful population is being allowed to stagnate as a lack of jobs and educational opportunities, as well as a pressure to give up educational goals in order to feed or care for family members, are forcing younger people to lose the opportunities that should rightfully be theirs. The problem is particularly acute in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where huge swathes of youths are joining rebel groups as they lack the educational and career related opportunities that might motivate them to study or take up a trade.
Another huge problem is the lack of educational infrastructure available, and also the lack of high quality transport infrastructure that would enable learners to reach their school classroom in order to receive lessons in the first place. 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), however in some of the continent's nations (such as Niger) there is just a single university - or no tertiary education provided at all. Even in the wealthier country of 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-Sahara Africa, particularly in rural or desert areas where children and young people have practically no means of reaching a school in order to participate in conventional classroom teaching on a regular basis.
On the upside, however, Africa is a continent that 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, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya are the biggest app downloaders on the continent. The challenge is to stimulate and develop this trend so that it also takes root in Sub-Sahara Africa.

All of this data on the current situation in Africa indicates that online learning (embracing everything from MOOC to m-learning based around smartphone apps, and from e-learning conducted via videostreamed lectures to other types of online courses) is the way forward for Africa. If implemented correctly, e-learning strategies could surmount all of the infrastructure related difficulties described above and provide educational opportunities to Africa's large - and growing - youthful population, as well as to adult learners who missed out on primary and/ or secondary education in their youths. The crucial thing is to implement MOOC and other e-learning strategies correctly, and my research suggests that blended learning is the best way to do this. Accordingly, let us now turn to an evaluation of blended learning strategies: what they consist of and how they can help Africans to learn.
Blended learning: a working definition.
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 example of blended learning would be a university campus that allows students to stream some of their lectures online from any location that they please, but also requires them to attend weekly seminars on campus. Another blended learning strategy might combine online and offline distance education, whereby students are encouraged to access online resources in order to conduct their research but also 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 with each other. 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 transport infrastructure to and from the university is good - in fact, providing lectures that can be accessed online might have the effect of demotivating such students and depriving them of access to a readily available embodied classroom experience. However, this type of distance education tool is perfect for learners in very remote areas who would find it impossible to attend the lectures in person.
What are the current conditions like in educational institutions in African countries?
Conditions in schools and universities vary widely from country to country. In Nairobi University, for instance, students can partake of numerous offline and online facilities, including a good quality ICT architecture that is available 24/7, sports halls, dedicated examination centres and a health centre. Here, edtech would be expected to build on and develop (as well as to transform) an existing flourishing set of already blended learning facilities. By contrast, primary and secondary schools in the Eastern Cape lack even basic latrine facilities - let alone good quality learning materials (whether printed or digital). In these schools, which can typically have 90 pupils being taught by one single educator, distance education and the admixture of some digital learning facilities would ease the pressure on individual teachers and enable pupils to learn in peace, away from overcrowded classrooms that can actually impede learning.
Which conditions are necessary for blended learning to have the best effect?
The answer to this question follows intuitively from the discussion above. For blended learning to have a positive and useful effect on African communities as a bare minimum they will need a curriculum and trained educators to deliver it, as well as a digital learning strategy that is tailored to suit the needs of the individual class or even single learners. In particular, the digital aspects of a blended educational strategy ought to be geared towards meeting any deficiencies in the provision of offline learning at any given establishment (for instance, lack of infrastructure). Digital learning strategies ought to be ambitious, future proofed, forward thinking and designed to give learners the best quality education, no matter what their circumstances.

A summary: why is a blend of online courses and classical educational infrastructure beneficial in Sub Saharan Africa?
Sub Saharan Africa is one of the most important regions when it comes to the rollout of blended educational strategies. This is where the continent's poorest communities are concentrated, where educational infrastructure is often poor in quality or non existent, and thus where well developed MOOC, e-learning and m-learning strategies can be expected to provide the most dramatic benefits and positive changes.

In sum, a blended approach to education will vastly benefit this poorer region of Africa because it will:
  • Make up for poor educational infrastructure
  • Make up for poor transport infrastructure
  • Relieve teachers who are often tasked with educating overcrowded classrooms
  • Provide learners with innovative education from international universities and educators across the globe, that is thus not dependent on their region
  • Empower poorer communities
  • Motivate learners to focus on career and educational goals instead of joining rebel groups or engaging in similar activities
  • Open up the possibility of new and exciting career opportunities for learners, on an international level
  • Enable older citizens who initially missed out on primary, secondary or tertiary education, to gain an education from home
  • Support African entrepreneurship

Find out more today!

Achieving the right blend of digital and traditional, of online and offline learning, will provide a potent solution for learners and educators in Africa. As we have seen, apps are one of the most effective tools available for blended learning and they should be a vital part of any blended educational plan. Visit http://www.apps-for-learning.com/ now to find out more!