On September 1st, 2021, Growd was named Best EdTech Startup of the Year by Kenya EdTech Summit and Awards.

Our very own COO, AnnRita Njiru (right), attended the awards and partook in a wonderful panel discussion on the topic of transforming schools and systems to educate global citizens.

Below is a summary of AnnRita’s insightful responses to the panel questions:

Q: How would you define a global citizen?

A. A global citizen is equipped with the 21st-century skills of problem-solving, critical thinking, curiosity, imagination, and the ability to analyze, synthesize, innovate, and thoughtfully reason. They are someone who has achieved a high level of self-awareness wherein they’ve had opportunities to identify and hone their unique skills and talents. Such characteristics ensure that global citizens can meaningfully and productively solve the world’s most critical and pressing problems such as food insecurity, access to health, equitable wealth distribution at community, regional and global levels. A global citizen is flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances and a passionate lifelong learner.

Q: How can we educate students to be globally aware, minded, and proficient?

A. We need to change education systems to match current trends and needs, to ensure educational curricula is modelled after the precepts of innovation, creation, and dynamism in order to best prepare students for the times we’re living in as well as the future.

Unfortunately, most systems have not changed or developed for many years. And the challenge here is that what they were created for is not what’s needed now. 20th-century education was premised upon forming the ideal industrial worker who can listen to instruction well and withstand tedious, repetitive tasks. The kind of workers produced through this education system lack critical thinking skills meaning they cannot adequately address the issues and challenges of the 21st century.

Another important aspect that must be remembered when reflecting on how best to educate globally-minded students is inclusivity. Ensuring inclusivity is not only based on creating opportunities for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds but also ensuring 21st-century education systems are designed to accommodate all different types of learners. This would mean a level of personalization in educational approaches that would tailor learning experiences and practices to each learner’s abilities, talents, interests, and demographic characteristics. 

To create the kind of students we need, education systems must be re-oriented in order to emphasize collaboration and mutual support rather than competition as they have traditionally been designed to do. Education must be an ongoing conversation encouraging constant collaboration and input from parents, caregivers, and all other stakeholders, including government, the private sector, and civil society actors. 

As education systems innovate and re-invent themselves, learning needs to be turned into an activity that is not only practical and relevant but also fun and engaging. Such a goal can be accomplished by striking a healthy balance between global exposure and localized content. 

Much of the changes we need to see in our education systems are being realized by leveraging technology to bring out the greatest, most advantageous outcomes for learners. 

Q. What is the impact of tech on education?

A. As with everything, there are pros and cons that must be weighed, and tech in education is no exception. 

On the one hand there are numerous positives to tech in education. Technology has, by and large, eradicated the limitations of time and space on education. Students can access information from anywhere at any time. Location no longer serves as a limitation to one’s learning journey, and proximity no longer defines who one’s teacher can be.

Technology enables students to access and store a much more comprehensive range of information than print sources ever permitted. The amount of educational and learning material that can be accessed by virtue of technology will help create the type of globally-minded citizens many of us envision.

While the benefits of tech in education should be celebrated, its adverse consequences must not be downplayed. The first concern associated with tech in education is learners’ heightened risk and exposure to cyber insecurity.

A second concern is the overstimulation of young learners exposed to technology through devices and online resources. The relative vastness and range of possibilities provided through the digitization of information can be overwhelming for learners just starting. Plus, the overuse of technology may lead to tech fatigue in older learners, increasing feelings of stress and isolation and negatively impact social skills. 

Lastly, there remains a sizable technological gap among Global North and South countries, among urban and rural populations, and across gender and socioeconomic groups. Due to the persistence of the technological gap, many remain excluded from reaping the benefits of tech-based education. So long as the gap remains, many learners will be deprived of the possibilities a tech-based education can offer them. 

Q. What are the specific challenges of tech based education?

A. In order to see an improvement in individuals’ lives and the world at large, there are significant challenges that must be addressed before the macro advantages of tech-based education can be perceived. 

Presently, many children lack the necessary resources enabling their participation in a tech-based education curriculum. Many learners do not have access to various devices, the internet and localized relatable content they can learn from.

The advancement of tech in education is also hindered by teachers feeling ill-equipped to support learners. Since teachers themselves often lack proper training and access to devices and the internet.

Another challenge of tech-based education is s the numerous EdTech options and approaches currently available on the market. Such variety can make evaluating and choosing the best tools or products challenging, especially for those unfamiliar with the tech-based world.

Q. How are we at Growd accomplishing these goals? 

A. We at Growd are constantly learning and innovating. We are changing how education is delivered by providing learning activities globally ensuring kids are not limited by time or space

Growd’s tech-based provision of co-curricular activities has created a digital knowledge-sharing network of parents and experts who can collaborate and discuss all sorts of issues and topics related to children’s education.

We are also mindful of the need to accommodate different children’s abilities, interests, ages, talents, and locations, which is why we seek to curate and design activities for each individual learner.

Lastly, to prevent learners from becoming overwhelmed with content, we aim to offer localized activities which are relatable and relevant for the learner.

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