Challenges and Opportunities for Online Practical Work in Sub-Saharan Africa

Femi Emmanuel Babalola, Sina Joshua Fakoyede


Practical work is an integral part of teaching and learning in STEM. It can help to deliver many learning outcomes - manipulative skills, observation and description, motivation, creative thinking, problem-solving abilities, and critical attitudes, as well as conceptual understanding. In recent years the already weak provision of the STEM practical curriculum in Sub Saharan Africa SSA has been undermined further by pandemic constraints. Online practical work is expanding rapidly in both scale and sophistication worldwide and it offers a credible means of mitigating such problems and improving access in SSA.

This study examines issues and prospects for online practical work in SSA. It includes a brief summary of the present position and presents the views of stakeholders gathered using semi structured interviews. These focused on their attitudes towards introducing new learning technologies and related approaches in the teaching and learning of practical work in science.

The results showed that many of the educators interviewed are enthusiastic about the opportunities afforded by online practical work and see such innovation as a useful response to the pandemic. They also assert their readiness to embrace new technologies in STEM practical work but warn of the challenges, notably access to resources and the lack of the teaching skills required to engage learners in effective online practical work. The students have been disappointed by online versions of conventional face to face teaching and many are sceptical about online practical work. Resource and cost issues dominate their thinking. Science educators will require extensive training if online learning technologies are to be harnessed successfully to provide practical science activities in SSA.


Science Education; Practical Science; Online Laboratory; Learning Technologies and Sub-Saharan Africa

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