It is estimated that across Sub-Saharan Africa and in most African countries, the student teacher ratio is more than 60 pupils to one teacher. Though this situation varies from country to country, this environment presents a huge demand on teachers’ attention whose capacity may not always be effective to ensure that all children receive the necessary tutorial attention they require.
33 million primary school-aged children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not go to school and 18 million of these children are girls. Although literacy rates have greatly improved in Africa over the last few decades, approximately 40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25 are illiterate. These statistics present areas of concern in providing quality education. Against this demand, it is evident that the teacher student ratio and ultimately the average class size are extremely huge.
Education will always be the key to unlocking doors of freedom and opportunity for all especially in Africa. While the quality of education that children receive is affected to a very large degree by the supporting environment, major socio-economic factors influencing the quality of education especially class size are poverty, unavailability of well-trained teachers and lack of educational resources. Huge class size or over crowded classrooms have a huge impact on student achievement and this remains a thorny question for educational decision makers in a lot of African countries. Given the statistics above, Classroom size becomes the next factor of great concern after basic provision of education.
Negative impact of large student classroom size
Low pupil classroom engagement
Over crowded classrooms or huge class size slow down student adjustment to school and productive engagement in class. The student teacher engagement tends to diminish as the number of children increases therefore affecting student achievement.
Lack of Teachers’ individual attention to students
Children in need of Teacher’s special attention may not be fully engaged as the little time allocated to a period of class is distributed to too many children. This also results in unmotivated Teachers and students due to poor results.
Passive student involvement
As a result of little to no time allocated to individual students due to large classes, this may lead to some students having a passive role in class. On the other hand smaller class size enable students to actively interact in a more sustainable way with the Teacher
Difficult class management and control
At the end of the day discipline forms a big part of the learning process. If a Teacher is unable to control and manage the class due to its size this ideally means children are sometimes left to do as they please.
How technology can help combat the problem of large class size
Technology is one way of reducing effects of class sizes in Africa. Appropriate use of technology allows one teacher to address multiple classes of students at the same time while eliminating the need for proximity e.g. online lectures which have grown in popularity world wide. Online tests which keep track of student progress can also improve student monitoring in classes while eliminating time needed to mark student submissions. will be able to reduce the Teacher student ratio, while increasing student engagement. A blended approach which utilizes digital media and gamification also induces active engagement in class making lessons more effective in the long run. Generally, technology can play a big role in addressing access to quality education, class engagement, increasing student exposure and engagement.
All of this is evidence of the relevance of Higherlife Foundations’ Ruzivo platform and how this platform can change education in Africa. Let’s keep the momentum and one day every child in Africa will have quality education, which they so deserve.