|Africa University develops e-learning plans, officials say
Nov. 13, 2006
|A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose
University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, is developing distance education
programs to better provide learning opportunities across the continent.
By Sharai Nondo*
(UMNS) Africa University is on an e-learning threshold to become the
pan-African institution it was created to be, school officials told
United Methodist bishops.
Throughout the United
Methodist Council of Bishops' Nov. 1-6 meeting, information
technologists from Africa University provided a glimpse of how distance
education would work to reach and provide learning opportunities to
areas of the continent.
The bishops saw how the
university will use electronic learning methods as well as establish a
virtual university on campus. E-learning will enable the university to
reach out to several African countries in its initial phases, including
Mozambique, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia,
according to Nodumo Dhlamini, the university's director of communication
Dhlamini said electronic learning, which is the use of current
information technologies in the delivery of teaching and learning, has
always been at the heart of the information and technology strategy at
Bishop Joćo Somane Machado
face the usual challenges of lack of requisite infrastructure, access
to computers and connectivity," she added. "This cannot deter us from
our goal of setting up distance learning."
however, remains a major challenge in Africa, with governments giving
their major priorities to basic provision of health care, water and
sanitation and education. Information technologies also are facing
strict regulatory controls, she said.
Mozambican Bishop Joćo
Somane Machado commended Africa University on its plans for the virtual
university and the opportunity for his clergy to continue with their
studies and contribute to the overall growth and development of the
Representatives from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and
Ministry canvassed areas of Maputo and outlying environs to find a
location for a satellite link or campus that would enable distance
education to begin in Mozambique. The search is still under way.
During an Oct. 30-31
session on a holistic strategy for Africa, the continent's United
Methodist bishops spoke of the need for translation of any content into
Portuguese and French to cater to the diverse needs of people using
Ken Yamada, a Higher
Education and Ministry staff person, said Africa University was designed
to serve the entire continent of Africa. In order to do that, "it was
important to devise a strategy whereby the university would go to the
people" through satellite campuses in different locales, he explained.
He emphasized the importance of local people having ownership of their
institutions. "Students can now access and experience an innovative way
of teaching and learning, and the lecturers are assisted by support
structures and capacity building efforts," he said.
Bishop José Quipungo
Bishop Felton May,
chairperson of the holistic strategy on Africa committee, noted that
distance education will reflect that Africa University is Pan-African.
East Angolan Bishop
Jose Quipungo praised Africa University's investment into distance
learning. He said he perceives "education in Africa as a total
liberating force from poverty."
*Nondo is program assistant in Africa University's Information and Public Affairs Office.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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