How can educators and policymakers' response to the COVID-19 pandemic help prepare the developing world for the Fourth Industrial Revolution? This is the question examined by TWAS Executive Director Romain Murenzi and his team published in the journal of the Michigan State University (MSU) Alliance for African Partnership Perspectives.
The full title of the article is “Looking into Africa's Future: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Role of ICT Education”. It is part of the inaugural volume of the MSU journal from The Alliance for African Partnership (AAP), a network founded by Michigan State University in the United States, in collaboration with African colleagues. It is focused on promoting quality long-term partnerships among African institutions, MSU and other international collaborators. The new journal publishes thought pieces and occasional papers. This first volume examines the theme of “African Universities and the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
The article, written by TWAS Executive Director Romain Murenzi and three others, makes the case for investing in science and technology, especially in the developing world. It explores how the use of information technology came into play during the global pandemic response, and what lessons can be learned from these responses as policymakers consider the spread of digital tools and students' future educational needs.
This is especially important in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the ongoing digital revolution in which the barriers between the physical, digital, and biological become blurred. These technology-driven societal changes will require broad-scale training in complex, specialized fields such as big data, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. And the authors argue that skills for navigating such fields must be made available to citizens throughout the developing world in order for their societies to fully thrive.
“It is imperative to invest in science education, to increase access to ICT infrastructure for young people, to increase science literacy among the populace, and to strive toward gender equity in the STEM workforce,” the authors write. “One of the great challenges for any nation, which the pandemic has made more apparent, is the need to develop its citizens' scientific awareness. Technology, after all, evolves rapidly, and in a greater scientific culture, it is necessary to provide all possible resources to train citizens to better understand their potential.”
A version of the article in pdf form is available here.