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The 4th Industrial Revolution and ECD

One of the biggest challenges facing Africa is the speed in which the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is emerging on a global scale. In Africa, politicians, business owners and society have yet to take full advantage of this change and how its impact on businesses can be optimised.

Three of the main challenges facing Africa in the rollout of the 4IR are:

  • The lack of development of digital skills.
  • The lack of co-operation between the public and private sectors.
  • How it should be done within the education environment, and for our purposes, within ECD.

As Africa becomes more driven by services and less dependent on commodities we should consider on an increasingly frequent basis, how we can move from low-skill and low-pay jobs to high-skill and high paying jobs.

Enter Early Childhood Development. Let’s look, for today, at only the third of the three challenges posed above.

The first question anyone will ask – how we can position the ECD sector to ride the wave of 4IR. Our simple answer is – don’t!

I can just see the incredulous looks out there. "But you’ve just said this is the future?" "How can we not position our children for this?"

Of course, you are right. But let me clarify. At Play Learn Win our fundamental approach to education, is that preschool children, especially in the pre-grade R levels, should learn and develop by playing. This is why we disapprove of much screen time for children of this age, whether this is television, smartphones, iPads, laptops, or anything like that. Children at this age need to develop their cognitive, tactile and sensory skills optimally. They cannot do this through computers. As they grow older though, there are more and more interface points where this becomes possible, and indeed desirable.

A good example of this is through the STEM approach. Virtually all countries nowadays have organisations that specialise in providing STEM-type exposure for young children – Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics. But if you take a careful look at how they convey this knowledge to especially smaller children; it is done by reducing the whole learning environment to fun. To play. To experimenting and exploring. This is what young children desire. This is what they need.

There is however a way in which pre-school environments can leverage the benefits of the 4IR dramatically, to the benefit of their children. This is using the benefits that the 4IR brings to create the ecosystem within which the children can thrive. Simply put – teachers, principals, in fact, the whole school, should leverage the benefits of the 4IR to make the learning environment a developmental experience for small children.

In the present and future 4IR world, one of the main bridges between the physical and digital environment will be the IoT (Internet of Things). Everything is made possible via the internet, so the IoT is a relationship between things (places, tools, systems) and people that are made possible by connected technologies and various platforms. An excellent example of this is Parent App.

Parent App is a revolutionary early childhood and education management system. As an example of the IoT – it links the following individuals together: parents, teachers, principals. It links the following capabilities together: class management, reports, billing and invoicing, employee management and learning frameworks.

And it links the following outcomes together: informed parents, informed teachers, informed principals, updated calendars, updated meal plans, and updated performance metrics. In short – updated situational awareness for all involved.

If ever there was an example of a 4IR capability that truly can benefit a child in its formative years, without forcing it into sacrificing play for screen time, in the illusionary ideal that this will create a true genius, then Parent App is your solution.

After all – Albert Einstein had no screen time…




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