Investigating K-12 computing education in four African countries (Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda)
Motivation. As K-12 computing education becomes more established throughout the world, there is an increasing focus on accessibility for all, whether in a particular country or setting or in areas of the world that may not yet have computing established. This is primarily articulated as an equity issue. The recently developed CAPE (capacity for, access to, participation in and experience of computer science education) Framework is one way of demonstrating stages and dependencies and understanding relative equity, taking into consideration the disparities between sub-populations. While there is existing research that covers the state of computing education and equity issues, it is mostly in high-income countries; there is minimal research in the context of low-middle income countries like the Sub-Saharan African countries.
Objectives. The objective of the paper is therefore to report on a pilot study investigating the capacity (one of the equity issues), for delivering computing education in four Sub-Saharan African countries: Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, countries which are in different geographic regions as well as in different income brackets (low-middle income).
Method. In addition to reviewing the capacity issues of curriculum and policy around computing education in each country, we surveyed 58 teachers about the infrastructure, resources, professional development, and curriculum for computing in their country. We used a localized version of the MEasuring TeacheR Enacted Computing Curriculum (METRECC) instrument for this purpose.
Results. We analyzed the results through the lens of the CAPE framework at the capacity level. We identified similarities and differences in the data from teachers who completed the original METRECC survey, all of whom were from high-income countries and African teachers. The data revealed statistically significant differences between the two data sets in relation to access to resources and professional development opportunities in computer studies/computer science, with the African teachers experiencing more barriers. Results further showed that African teachers focus less on teaching algorithms and programming than teachers from high-income countries. In addition, we found differences between African countries in the study, reflecting their relative access to IT infrastructure and resources.
Discussion. The findings suggest that African countries are still struggling with the lowest level of the CAPE pyramid, Capacity for as compared to high-income countries. This level is concerned with the availability of resources that support the enactment of a computing curriculum of high quality. The CAPE framework helps map the progression from Capacity for to Experience of computer science education as a route to equity, but in order to support development in low and middle-income countries, it may be helpful to have the capacity level finely grained. Such an adaptation draws out dependencies between policy and vision, infrastructure, curriculum implementation, and teacher professional development. More research is recommended to investigate these dependencies further and thus support and facilitate the development of global computing education.
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