Technical Solutions Based on Open Source and Global Standards
Bonn (GER), November 2021 – GIZ is a German governmental agency that supports international development through capacity development across the world. The organization is increasingly harnessing learning platforms and platform ecosystems to increase scale and effectiveness of these efforts. At OEB Global, GIZ’s Dominic Orr and Franziska Seiffarth will make a presentation entitled "Innovating along the learning to earning journey - How to empower the next generation – Insights from the atingi and yoma digital platforms".
In your opinion, what is absolutely crucial in the process of educating the next generation?
Dominic Orr, Franziska Seiffarth: In our work, which we will present at OEB this year, we are particularly focused on taking an ecosystem approach to learning and the benefits it can bring. Too often education systems are organised into administrative areas - basic, secondary, and tertiary education, initial training, further education, and lifelong learning. This is not, however, seen from the perspective of learners, who are generally looking for learning opportunities that will help achieve improvement in their own life chances.
So, members of the new generation, perhaps more so than their elders, are looking for information about opportunities and pathways towards realising these opportunities, which makes them more goal orientated. This is why we call our contribution "From learning to earning", i.e. we aim to provide access to a whole ecosystem to make this pathway, in a certain way, seamless.
We aim to put youth at the centre, aligning opportunities with their aspirations, potential, and market demand. Our focus on Africa highlights the necessity for enabling frameworks like this because in Africa we have a median population age of around 20 years, a high level of un- and underemployment, and many people working in the informal sector, which is very unstable.
What changes and innovations could contribute to achieving success in this endeavour?
Dominic Orr, Franziska Seiffarth: The biggest emerging change that will help realise this vision is the establishment of technical solutions based on open source and global standards. Until now, digital - or rather platform - solutions were centralistic and competitive in approach and led to so-called "walled gardens". Even if ecosystem approaches are taken, the user has to enrol in each part of the system afresh with new digital credentials, and perhaps even enter the same data multiple times.
The visions of our projects - yoma and atingi - are to break this mould and to use open source and global standards, e.g. for identity management, certification, and navigation. This will enable a more seamless user experience and lead to the multiple benefits of linking learning achievements with working experience. This is supported by a digital token that functions as quasi currency and incentivises learners to engage throughout the learning journey.
How can these ideas be implemented or realised expeditiously?
Dominic Orr, Franziska Seiffarth: Taking such an approach means that every new partner within the network enriches the environment and the breadth of opportunities for users and for the partners themselves. What we need is to establish an open network of partners prepared to work together on this and with a mindset of collaboration and subsidiarity instead of competition and segmentation.
These partners must be open to using new technologies, which facilitate what we call the learning and earning journey. In our projects, we already collaborate with Smart Africa and their academy (SADA); with regional enterprises like RLabs, UMUZI, and Goodwall; with multilateral agencies like UNICEF; and with multi-partner networks like Generation Unlimited. We also welcome more partners to our expanding network.
What is the role of particular education policies in this process?
Dominic Orr, Franziska Seiffarth: Education policies can help facilitate this change by introducing more effective and flexible methods for recognising and demonstrating learning achievements such as micro-credentials and open badges.
Furthermore, by promoting open solutions in their project and programme funding, they can encourage the use of technologies and standards that enable reuse and links, instead of promoting competitive differences. Although we ourselves talk about an ecosystem approach in this context, it is probably better to say this is simply a learner-centric approach. Policies on local, national and global level should continue to push this approach.