Emmanuel Béché

The University of Maroua

Research Focus

Emmanuel Béché researches how children integrate technology (ICT) into their school and daily life, as well what ICT represents to them socially. How children use ICT in school is highly contextualized, subject to social and school environments, and is differentiated across the learning spectrum. He focuses on the factors which result in variability for children to access technology and how learners themselves can drive technological innovation in schools. He is currently working on designing a global and participative approach to ICT in education (instrumented training, open and distance learning), especially in a COVID-19 context.

My plans for the fellowship period

Many children in Africa were already learning in appalling conditions even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These children have had to acquire pedagogical survival skills to maintain their learning. Much of the current literature on the education crisis induced by COVID-19, does not capture how fragile the education system already was to explain why it has been unable to cushion the effect of the pandemic on schools. This is an important limitation in understanding the impact of COVID-19 on African schools.

My fellowship research will seek to achieve three things. First to underscore the extent to which COVID-19 has exacerbated the educational crisis in Africa by exposing structural weaknesses in educational policies and learning conditions. Second, and more importantly, to understand the pedagogic survival skills and tactics disadvantaged learners developed during the lockdown and how they used them to continue their learning. Finally, I aim to learn from their tactics to develop an emergency integrative education strategy.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?

My work will contribute to changing children’s and youth’s lives in two main ways. First my work will build a valuable database that will document the impact of challenging and disruptive social and school experiences on vulnerable children during the COVID-19 lockdown. The database will also document many of the resilience tactics vulnerable children used, such as simultaneously playing different roles – as learners, peers, elders, parents, grandparents, tutors, teachers, schools, and societies – in order to fill gaps in their social and school environment.

Second my work will draw from the data to design an integrative education solution to improve equitable access to school and education for vulnerable children in a crisis context. This innovative solution should ensure children can continue schooling regardless of their background, where they live, their family income and/or access to core infrastructure such as running water and electricity. The solution will further build on a child’s learning conditions and experiences to capitalize on their resilience and perseverance. The solution will be centered around two main components. First, supporting the whole child within their social, learning and environment context. Second, proposing concrete strategic policy and pedagogical actions stakeholders can implement.