Launch of an e-learning platform for African agricultural universities

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity, an organization made up of 143 universities in 38 African countries, is piloting the platform at universities in the countries of Uganda, Malawi and Zambia, and targeting priority programs of agricultural education course.

The platform is the first and one of the pillars of the Digital Agriculture Program in Africa, an initiative to harness digital technologies for Africa’s agricultural transformation and improve agricultural higher education at universities in Africa. continent.

The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa is supporting the digital learning platform, with a number of co-financiers who also complement the bank’s seed capital, said Francis Otto, Head of Knowledge Hub at RUFORUM.

“Many universities in Africa are still lagging behind and have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in particular”

“Although many higher education institutions around the world have turned to adopting e-learning, many universities in Africa are still lagging behind and have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in particular “, he declared at the seventh week of higher education in Africa and the RUFORUM triennial. 2021 conference taking place in Benin, a West African country.

Some 12 universities, both public and private, were selected for the pilot project, Otto explained. “From the needs assessment survey conducted, 12 institutions were identified as having limited human capacity and infrastructure to operate e-learning platforms, but they demonstrated the need to implement the e-learning, ”he explained of the selection of pilot universities, he noted.

The Commonwealth of Learning, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Mastercard Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are the platform’s other co-funders, he revealed.

So far, the promoters of the platform have developed blended educational material and, more importantly, identified and selected “market demanded courses” for different universities, to offer on the platform.

A total of 13 courses have been selected in the fields of research, science, IT, project management and agriculture, to be included in the e-learning platform. They include research methods, scientific data management, and popular agricultural fields such as plant breeding, agro-industry, climate-smart agriculture, and biotechnology and seed systems.

The promoters of the platform were working with two focus universities of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi and Makerere University in Uganda and 10 others to support capacity building in e-learning and teaching for staff and students, revealed Otto.

In the future, the official noted, the training of a pool of content developers will be strengthened as well as that of course instructors. Skills development training in the use of digital technologies for university administrative staff will also be provided.

The deployment of computing for distance learning has become urgent in Africa since the advent of Covid-19, but many challenges including lack of electricity, poor broadband connectivity, lack of gadgets and the low human capacity to deliver education online has hampered this.

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