Promoting access to higher education is now the focus point in Africa. Recently, initiative was taken on the 23rd by the International Council for Open and Distance Education or ICDE and the African Virtual University (AVU) to launch cost-effective and e-learning partnership comprised with efficient tools to cater higher education in Africa.
The collaborations between ICDE and AVU is aimed at promoting online learning, mobile learning and e-learning as an effective tool for enabling African citizens and others from any part of the world have access to University study, feels Gard Titlestad. Nonetheless, the question is whether the number of internet users is adequate in the country?
What Statistics show?
The reading as brought out by the Internet World Stats, the total internet penetration rate within Africa shot straight from 3% in 2006 to 15.6% by June, 2012. Though the hike in figure is a good indication, the figure 15.6% is actually lagging behind world average statistic of 34%. Besides, Sub-Saharan Africa revealed only a minimum percentage of 6% aged between 25 and 34 having access to tertiary education, while in United States and United Kingdom the percentages showed at 60% and 70%.
Hope amidst Despair
Though everything is not as prospective as in developed countries, the good news is Africa records an amazing growth rate in internet usage, which is the highest in the world. What has triggered popularity of online study is lack of adequate physical infrastructure so as to meet the increasing demand of higher education. Bakary Diallo, AVU Rector told University World News that this is one of the prime reasons for escalating demand of online education in Africa.
Diallo does not miss to point out that using communication and information technologies in education has actually helped a lot in saving institutional costs on diverse items like textbooks, physical classroom infrastructure and also the number of teachers. Thus, saving on cost the initiative is to promote quality education. Needless to say, there is yet a lot to gain from AVU-ICDE partnership.
The fruits of AVU and ICDE Partnership
The launch of AVU and ICDE partnership aims at promoting significance of distance, open, online and flexible education to enhance access of enthusiastic students to quality education, enhance e-learning attributes by advocating development of new technologies and methodologies and eventually facilitating networking and cooperation.
Undeniably, the partnership will help in increasing enrolments in higher educational institutions thus ultimately aiding African government cater educational goals to people at large. Diallo does not fail to mark out that e-learning is form of flexible education that aims at accommodating various students’ needs, even for those who are engaged in profession but aims at upgrading skills. He firmly believes that e-learning is about to revolutionise educational scenario within Africa by producing lifelong learners who will consistently keep on contributing to this world.
When asked about the outcome of this initiative in a country with low internet penetration, Diallo points out that the biggest advantage of AVU e-learning model is that it identifies biggest challenges within the country regarding internet connectivity. But the model disseminates study materials over CDs and also in prints to enable students have access to them without internet connection.
Thus, it is obvious AVU is hugely committed towards strengthening capacity of majority of African Universities engaged in offering e-learning programmes.