Great stories

Digital education – a solution to the education crisis?

von Isabelle Diekmann

Digital education in Germany

Anyone who has school-age children or is still in school themselves will have noticed at the latest during the first Corona lockdown in March 2020: Germany's schools are hardly digitalized. In many places there were neither computers nor digital teaching materials and many teachers lacked the skills to switch to distance learning. In a study by the learning platform Preply, which examined the conditions for digital education in 32 OECD countries for the second time after 2020 in 2021, Germany fell from 13th to 18th place overall. In comparison, other countries had responded to the demands of digitalization more quickly, effectively and with less bureaucracy (see Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2022 )

Global learning crisis

But even though Germany has some catching up to do when it comes to digitization in schools, the level of learning among children is still very positive compared to the rest of the world. In Germany and in North America and Europe as a whole, more than 90% of children reach the basic level of reading and arithmetic. In sub-Saharan African countries, only around 10% reach this level. The learning deficits were already large before the pandemic, but were exacerbated when COVID-19 brought education systems to a standstill around the world. During the pandemic, students did not achieve their usual learning successes while schools were closed, despite attempts to achieve them through distance learning (see World Bank ).

School class in Muranga County, Kendara Sub-County, Kenya, photo ©Christoph Köstlin

Fighting the crisis with digital education – with EIDU in Kenya

Our partner EIDU , which you can easily support with our Tut Gutes tariff powered by Congstar , wants to counteract the global learning crisis with digital education and has therefore created a technology-supported platform on which education experts provide materials and curricula for teachers and students. We met Harleen Thati, Head of Grant Origination at EIDU, for an interview during our project trip to Kenya in September. We spoke to her about the reasons, development and risks of the global learning crisis as well as the opportunities and successes of digital education.

Harleen Thati, Head of Grant Origination at EIDU (4th from right) with share and EIDU employees in Kenya, photo: ©Christoph Köstlin

Interview with EIDU about digital education as an opportunity in the learning crisis

There is often talk of a “global learning crisis”. What does this mean and what are the biggest risks?

Despite a sharp increase in access to schooling, learning outcomes remain poor, particularly in low- and middle-income countries – this is the global learning crisis.

One indicator of the learning crisis is the learning poverty rate, which measures the proportion of children who cannot read and understand simple text by age 10. In sub-Saharan Africa, this figure is 89% (Source: World Bank 2022 ). This severely limits lifelong learning potential, thereby undermining the future of today's children and the economic prospects of their countries.

Even if children go to school, the learning deficits are extremely high compared to Europe and North America. Only a small percentage of children in sub-Saharan countries reach a basic level when it comes to reading and arithmetic. Where do these deficits come from?

The reasons for these poor outcomes are varied and vary from context to context. Reasons include inadequate resources for teacher training, poor teaching quality, large class sizes and unequal distribution of resources.

EIDU and share team visiting a school in Kenya, Photo: ©Christoph Köstlin

To what extent has the Corona pandemic exacerbated this problem?

World Bank simulations for 2022 show that the learning poverty rate in sub-Saharan Africa increased to 89% in 2022 (up from 86% in 2019) due to COVID-19 school closures and learning disruptions.

What impact does this have on the development of children and the economy in the countries concerned?

Reading, along with literacy, numeracy and socio-emotional skills, is a building block for all other educational outcomes that matter to society. Learning poverty, which occurs at a very early stage in a learner's life, has lifelong consequences for the learning potential and economic prospects of their countries - threatening the future of individuals, their societies and economies.

Two students in class in Muranga County, Kendara Sub-County, Kenya, Photo: ©Christoph Köstlin

What opportunities does digital education offer here? Why is digital education so important? And what successes have already been achieved through the use of the EIDU platform?

It is becoming increasingly clear that digital learning can be effective when embedded in a clear pedagogical framework that supports teachers (see UNICEF )

Digital technologies have the potential to deliver educational content broadly and rapidly, and to adapt to different contexts. For example, to accelerate learning through self-directed content or software personalisation, and to ensure continued access in times of need. Preliminary results from EIDU's one-year randomised control trial (RCT) show that EIDU learners achieved better learning outcomes in all measured areas compared to learners who do not have access to the EIDU platform, with EIDU adding the equivalent of an additional 0.8 years of learning in literacy and numeracy after the platform had been deployed in schools for just six months (more details from the independent evaluation here ).

This is a strong endorsement of the work EIDU is doing to bring digital learning to Kenyan learners at scale, within the curriculum and with teacher support. The final results of this study are expected in early 2024.

School lessons in Kenya, Muranga County, Kendara Sub-County, Photo: ©Christoph Köstlin

What advantages does the EIDU platform offer teachers here? And how do children react to digital learning?

There is growing evidence that structured pedagogy* is one of the most effective interventions for improving children’s learning outcomes.

EIDU has digitized a scientifically proven and Kenyan government-approved structured pedagogy program - in practice, this means that teachers receive digitized lesson plans for each day of the school year. Digitization makes the program less burdensome for teachers to implement, cost-effective for governments to scale, and easier for the Ministry of Education to update - while also creating a mechanism for scaled data collection and teacher feedback.

Children learn with interactive and personalized exercises that are synchronized with the official curriculum. Anecdotal evidence suggests that children are embracing digital learning well: student demand in class is high, students find it relatively intuitive to engage with the exercises, the exercises are easily accepted, and schools report higher attendance rates. Parents also recognize the benefits and are pushing their schools to expand EIDU to all grade levels. (Currently, EIDU is only used in preschool)

*Structured pedagogy refers to a systemic change in educational content and methods brought about through comprehensive, coordinated programs focused on teaching and learning, with the goal of changing instructional practices to ensure that every child learns.

Teaching using the EIDU learning platform on smartphones in Kenya, photo: ©Christoph Köstlin

What goals have you set for yourself and how do you want to achieve them?

EIDU envisions a world where every child can reach their potential through quality education. We have developed a technology platform that empowers governments and the global education community to improve education systems faster than ever before, based on a core principle - a comprehensive and open system that is scalable and sustainable.

In the future, we aim to reach all children in Kenya, from preschool to primary school, and expand to more countries. We are constantly working to integrate more high-quality content across all languages ​​and grade levels to meet the needs of the global education community and pave the way for our vision.

The mobile phone plan that donates education

Now including 5G!

Discover the Tut Gutes tariff powered by congstar now and donate monthly access to digital education for school children. Sign up now by June 3rd and secure double data volume!

The mobile phone plan that donates education

share Tut Gutes Tariff for digital education

We at share believe that there are many reasons to support the work of EIDU and this is exactly what the Tut Gutes tariff does. Using the app or the share Tut Gutes tariff website, anyone can become a part of this wonderful and important initiative and support students in Kenya on their educational journey. Because every month with this tariff means donating one month of digital education. We can only hope that this project can continue to grow with your support and that digital education will be recognized worldwide as a key to greater educational equality. Be a part of it now.

You might also be interested in:

Positive things for your inbox – 10% discount for you.

With our weekly newsletter you will find out everything about our promotions, new products and projects as well as ways to easily make your social contribution. Sign up now and save 10% on your next order.