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Cammie Kannekens



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I have worked closely with a school in Uganda for several years, providing teacher training in basic pedagogy as well as technology training. This past summer the training also involved introducing teachers to ChatGPT - only about 10% of them had even heard of it. The principal and his staff were amazed and excited about the possibilities AI could bring to their school and African education in general. Some AI experts propose that generative AI could truly be the tool that provides an opportunity for more equitable learning for schools around the globe. Others contend that rapidly expanding AI will only magnify and further entrench existing gaps. There are indeed many challenges that may keep AI advances out of reach. Many African schools lack basic infrastructure like electricity, a water source, plumbing or supplies and furniture. Most African students do not have access to computers at all, although families are increasingly connected to the internet via smartphones. Even if schools do have a few computers for teachers to share for planning, the teachers must provide their own internet connection. Teachers often have very limited computer access or digital skills themselves, so gaining AI skills and mindsets must overcome an even bigger gap. Many families struggle to pay school fees and other factors like travel distance, unavailability of qualified teachers, and other cultural norms and expectations further keep students from accessing school beyond a very basic level. Without access to equitable, accessible and sustainable educational resources and opportunities, students in Africa are at risk of being left even further behind in the global knowledge economy, perpetuating cycles of poverty and inequality. When students are unable to reach their full potential due to a lack educational opportunities their communities and countries are also limited in their potential.

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