Distance Learning – Unfolding Opportunities in a New World
Guest Post by Melissa Spears
“Hope Springs Eternal” – The saying could not have attained a better meaning and is best exemplified through the Distance Learning educational initiatives undertaken in Africa. The continent to make a prominent mark in the world of education is fighting hard with the credibility issue regarding Open and Distance Learning (ODL).
According to a report published in allAfrica.com http://allafrica.com/stories/201107140362.html) the AAU (Association of African Universities) Prof Olugbemiro Jegede, reported that “there is seemingly lack of interest in establishing national quality assurance systems by the authorities to improve education in the continent. However, like the rest of the world, the continent also needs to have a flexible tailor-made delivery of instruction taking advantage of emerging technological changes.” He made this statement during the third African Council for Distance Education annual conference in Dar es Salaam.
Vice President, Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal, also uttered statements matching the sentiments of the Nigerian professor. He said that all African countries need to adopt strategies capable of accelerating the continent along the path of equitable and long-term socio-economic transformation. He also added that the need of a Distance Learning higher education institute in Tanzania could only be felt with the failure of conventional modes in expanding access to university education. He said that the “government was committed to support ODL.”
The minister for Education and Vocational Training, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa added at the meeting “Blending the two systems of education will boost the educational level in the country and allow learners to pursue studies through systems of their own choice.” The minister also said that Tanzania has already set the wheels of open education rolling in the region with great success, the achievement rate being 38,000 successful students and rising.
Distance Learning, as a developmental tool of globalizing the education had cast its spell over the entire world and certainly, Africa is no exception either. To raise the sustainability of socio-economic status, the continent is relying heavily upon implementation of technological advancements to learning and teaching methods.
Comfort and convenience coupled with the freedom to learn at their own pace has appealed the students across the globe to join the bandwagon of the million other enthusiast learners. From attaining the right blend of career enhancement and professional development to offering the freedom to learn – the online mode of learning is like’s God’s best boon to the students.
Missing on classes and lectures, falling short of attendance, quitting job for earning higher professional recognition are all passé habits now. The ray of light has been none other than Distance Learning and it has conveniently pierced through the darkness and depth of Africa to shower its students under bright light.
With institutes like – African Virtual University (AVU) coming up as the genie to spell the wand of Distance Learning students are enjoying and experiencing a wide platform of success. An independent Inter-governmental organization, AVU offers courses in various disciplines like, Business Studies, Computer Science, and Journalism through satellite and Internet broadcast over 34 learning centers in Africa. University of South Africa (UNISA) is another established in online learning centers in Africa.
The African Distance Learning Association (ALDA) is another establishment that has been set up by African scholars and students to assists the African institutions. It works as supporting vehicle for virtual and open universities in Africa. SAIDE (South African Institute for Distance Education) is another non-governmental organization that has been conducting projects throughout South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The main aim of the organization is to contribute to the developmental models of open and distance education practice. It also attends the technological use in education.
Distance Learning, as it takes Africa under its cover is steadily unfolding its wings of opportunities over the world. All, it can be said and done is move with the flow of change that is passing over the educational world at present.
Amidst the euphoria about the new frontiers of technology sometimes perceived as a panacea for expansion of higher education in developing countries, there is a need to analyze persistent and new grounds of unequal opportunity for access, learning, and the production of knowledge.
The Handbook is intended a comprehensive reference work for practitioners, researchers and administrators engaged in forms of distance education in private and public education, from schooling through undergraduate and postgraduate coursework to doctoral research programs.
Other African education books