Covid-19 Extended School Closures. Distance Learning. Is this Africa’s Educational Blessing Wrapped in a Curse?

In context of school closures due to covid-19, ensuring continued learning for all children and youth through alternative channels is an opportunity for the African Education system. 

Global response recommendation by UNESCO includes scaling up best distance learning practices and offers technical support to quickly prepare and deploy hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech approaches. The opportunity to rapidly develop and test national learning platforms for continued curriculum based study is passing many countries by (with 21 days to go for Uganda).

From local think-tanks like Smarter Than Corona in Uganda (, education platforms are being developed to meet low-tech, hi-tech and no-tech possibilities for learners. 

The effects of school closure widely span from Interrupted learning, interrupted nutrition (since many rely on school meals), child protection in crime-vulnerable communities, potential rise in drop-out rates, not to mention the gap in access to digital learning portals.  Whether or not this is a blessing or curse is yet to be seen post covid-19 lockdown in various countries. 

Luckily, a number of solutions offering  low-tech, hi-tech and no-tech options are available for you as categorized below. 

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Digital Learning Systems

  • CenturyTech – Personal learning pathways with micro-lessons to address gaps in knowledge, challenge students and promote long-term memory retention.
  • ClassDojo – Connects teachers with students and parents to build classroom communities.
  • Edmodo – Tools and resources to manage classrooms and engage students remotely, offering a variety of languages.
  • Edraak – Arabic language online education with resources for school learners and teachers.
  • EkStep – Open learning platform with a collection of learning resources to support literacy and numeracy.
  • Google Classroom – Helps classes connect remotely, communicate and stay-organized.
  • Moodle – Community-driven and globally-supported open learning platform.
  • Nafham – Arabic language online learning platform hosting educational video lessons that correspond with Egyptian and Syrian curricula.
  • Paper Airplanes – Matches individuals with personal tutors for 12-16 week sessions conducted via video conferencing platforms.
  • Schoology – Tools to support instruction, learning, grading, collaboration and assessment.
  • Seesaw – Enables the creation of collaborative and sharable digital learning portfolios and learning resources. 
  • Skooler – Tools to turn Microsoft Office software into an education platform.


Systems built for use on basic mobile phones

  • Cell-Ed – Learner-centered, skills-based learning platform with offline options.
  • Eneza Education - Revision and learning materials for basic feature phones.
  • Funzi – Mobile learning service that supports teaching and training for large groups.
  • KaiOS – Software that gives smartphone capabilities to inexpensive mobile phones and helps open portals to learning opportunities.
  • Ubongo – Uses entertainment, mass media, and the connectivity of mobile devices to deliver localized learning to African families at low cost and scale.
  • Ustad Mobile – Access and share educational content offline.

Systems with strong offline functionality

  • Kolibri – Learning application to support universal education, available in more than 20 languages.
  • Rumie – Education tools and content to enable lifelong learning for underserved communities.
  • Ustad Mobile – Access and share educational content offline.

Tools for teachers to create of digital learning content

  • Thinglink – Tools to create interactive images, videos and other multimedia resources.
  • Buncee – Supports the creation and sharing visual representations of learning content, including media-rich lessons, reports, newsletters and presentations.
  • EdPuzzle – Video lesson creation software.
  • Kaltura – Video management and creation tools with integration options for various learning management systems.
  • Nearpod – Software to create lessons with informative and interactive assessment activities.
  • Pear Deck – Facilitates the design of engaging instructional content with various integration features.
  • Squigl – Content creation platform that transforms speech or text into animated videos.


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