How AI is changing education Sector


Brain with a printed circuit board (PCB) design and businessman representing artificial intelligence (AI). FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Student homework is dead. ChatGPT, a new chatbot by Microsoft, is the murderer. Learning will never be the same again. Future education is undoubtedly going to be different.

Education is already undergoing disruption from Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, many educationists argue that the ChatGPT's (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) ability to engage in conversations and respond in most cases as humans can be both optimistic and damaging to the sector.

In fact, the chatbot is causing ripples across the world. In short, this AI tool can create complex codes, write complete student essays, and work on math problems for students.

And what the student needs is just to ask ChatGPT questions, which will be answered.

Of course, there are a few questions it cannot respond to, but it can learn that at some point, and it will answer the questions correctly.

Take, for example, a question like, who discovered Mt. Kenya? The chatbot will respond from the search engines that Ludwig Krapf did.

However, too many Africans who are inquisitive will respond to the question that it was the Agĩkũyũ, the community that lives around the mountain.

Read: Why AI ChatGPT Software is a big deal 

If the teachers prefer the latter answer and become acknowledged in most of the online content, the chatbot may respond that there is no agreement as to who between Krapf and the Agĩkũyũ discovered the mountain.

What's more, ChatGPT, according to its developers, is a large language model. It is a group of AI tools that can read, summarise, and translate texts and predict future words in a sentence, letting them generate sentences similar to how humans talk and write.

And at some point, it will do the same in many languages.

I see enormous potential in an AI tool like ChatGPT. Indeed, the fact that African languages were suppressed in favour of European languages as a strategy to separate thought and speech, Africa now has the opportunity to begin the process of decolonizing education.

Studies tell us that vernacular is central to people's social and cultural development.

Further, using the mother tongue as a teaching medium enhances the cognitive ability of students when taught in their own languages.

In Europe, for instance, in multi-ethnic countries such as Belgium, students use their respective languages in classrooms.

The TV stations also accommodate every language. In addition, there are 24 official languages spoken at the European Union Parliament to guarantee inclusivity within the 27 member states.

As such, in education, teachers will need to adopt local languages while emphasizing new pedagogical methods by moving away from the current learning mode to encourage critical thinking by using talks as the main teaching strategy.

So, what reforms do we need to have in place? And how can educators in this modern day make education more exciting and relevant for students?

There is a need for more education reforms and a rethinking of common terminologies to be aligned with emerging technologies.

For example, in the developing world, education infrastructure always refers to buildings, furniture, and equipment necessary for teaching.

However, the future of education envisages that schools must include electricity and broadband as part of the basic infrastructure in the emerging scenario.

In addition, tools like laptops or tablets have to be in place to avoid leaving any learner behind.

And what's more, is the capacitation of complimentary institutions such as teacher training and content development that are part of the broader infrastructure.

In summary, the learner will need an ideal place to learn at home with revised pedagogical methods. In fact, the greatest need right now is to begin populating local content online.

Teachers and lecturers who may find the AI era challenging should start concentrating on content that can be digitised and uploaded online.

Equally important is to devise an incremental investment strategy to achieve a suitable learning environment for students.

Read: Is AI replacing human jobs?

In this regard, governments could provide tax breaks to telecommunication companies to ensure 100 percent connectivity coverage throughout the country. And ensure that every child has broadband access.

Similarly, we should start encouraging the development of microgrids to guarantee that all citizens have access to electricity.

Besides infrastructure, the role of the teacher in the age of AI will be critical in making learning more engaging and applicable for students.

In particular, teachers must embrace lifelong learning to stay ahead of students. In other words, failure to remain relevant in the emerging educational dispensation could render many teaching communities jobless.

Despite its disruptions, AI will be good for Africa to restore her languages and use them for development.

Further, AI might be the medicine the continent needs to root out problems and inconsistencies in education.

The writer is Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium, Mission to the European Union, Organization of African Caribbean and Pacific States and World Customs Organization. The article is written at a personal level.