In 2020, the world had to learn to work from home. Across Africa, in various sectors, people have had to surmount learning curves and adjust to a way of life many thought to be years in the future. At Tech Cabal we wanted to show Africans thriving as they work remotely. So, from online therapy to WhatsApp High School, here are stories of Africans living in the new normal.
Our first story in this series is from Ijeoma*, a teacher living and working in Lagos, Nigeria.
Im a fine arts teacher in a public school in Lagos and Ive been teaching for more than 20 years. The pandemic changed a lot of things for me and teachers like me.
One day we are teaching students with a chalkboard just like weve done for years and the next thing you know the students cant come to class and we have to learn new ways to teach.
With the pandemic came lockdowns in several countries. Schools were faced with the difficult task of finding new ways to learn.
While some schools made a relatively smooth transition to online learning, some public schools in Nigeria did not have the infrastructure for that.
The government tried to make sure we learned to work remotely so they created profiles for us on Microsoft Teams. On there, we had channels where we were taught how to use the software. The plan was to be able to learn and then teach our students there.
While some of the teachers could afford laptops and good enough smartphones to follow this training, our students couldnt.
Despite well-meaning plans by the government to create a platform for learning, the situation became a stark reminder of the claim that you cannot tech your way out of bad infrastructure.
Students who were not tech-enabled were now expected to join online classes and submit assignments that would require personal computers.
Weve had to start doing our lessons on WhatsApp – and even then we are only able to access a small fraction of our students who have parents that will allow them to have control of their phones for hours.
Public school students in Lagos are now using WhatsApp to keep up with their studies. In this post from June, Abubakar explored how higher institutions in Nigeria have continued to learn in the midst of the pandemic.
To help students who dont have access to smartphones all the time, my son showed me how to screen record on my phone and record my voice as well. I upload these videos to the WhatsApp groups so that the students can watch later and learn.
*Ijeoma is a pseudonym.
Editor’s note: We would like to hear more of your stories, so please fill this form and let us know your experience with tech in the new normal.