The African Virtual University is hosting a Computer Science and Teacher Education Curriculum Design Workshop in a move to review its math and science teacher education syllabus and address the obstacles to adoption of online learning in Africa.
The workshop, which began May 20 to May 25 has brought together Deputy Vice Chancellors in charge of Academics from participating institutions, deans of the Faculties of Computer Science, and Education, representatives of National Quality Assurance Bodies, and Industry representatives and over 170 education experts from over 21 countries.
The experts believe that for economies in Africa to grow steadily at the current average of 6 percent, more skills will be needed hence the need for development of education and training to march the growing economic needs.
According to Dr Bakary Diallo, Rector of the African Virtual University at the Teacher Education and Computer Science Curriculum Design Workshop,” Over the past decade, Africa has experienced unparalleled economic growth, putting the continent on a pedestal to become the next growth frontier.”
However, while there is so much optimism surrounding Africa’s growth potential, the continent appears to be lagging behind in training the necessary human resources to match its rosy economic growth prospects.
Diallo noted that although the number of students enrolling in tertiary education has been growing, the proportions are still dismally low, with only 6% of school-leavers in Sub-Saharan Africa entering tertiary institutions.
He added that for Africa to compete in the global economy, at least 12% to 15% of the continent’s workforce should have attained tertiary education which is impossible if universities just relied on physical infrastructure and traditional face to face teaching.
” This is the right time for Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, to consider using eLearning to address the growing need for quality and affordable education and training,” he said. “However, this requires appropriate policies and funding, meticulous planning and execution, innovation, quality control, research and development and a vast sensitization campaign.”
Universities in Africa are currently overwhelmed by increasing student numbers. Kenya is no exception, universities in Kenya have long suffered the high number of students admitted yearly. This years decision by JAB to lower the university cut out from 63 to 61 last year, thereby set to admit 53,010 candidates this year, a 26 percent increase.
Even with the introduction of parallel evening programmes, universities appear to be struggling to deal with growing student numbers. Universities have also been unable to increase physical infrastructure to meet the soaring demand.
This demonstrates that the current mode of delivery is unable to meet either current or projected demand. Therefore, under the traditional classroom teaching, tertiary education for most school-leaving children will remain unattainable.
The workshop participants are designing and developing a Curriculum for Computer Science Program which will include a Diploma Information Technology and a Bachelor of Applied Computer Science.
They promise to compare the curriculum of each participating country with that of existing 73 modules of Teacher Education in Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, ICT and Teacher Professional Development that were developed during the first phase of the AVU Multinational Project in order to come up with a Consortium Teacher Education Program.
The team is also looking at possibilities of having more students learn by allowing universites turn to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to access free online courses on the Internet such as Udemy, EdX, Coursera and several others.
Learners will however need to be motivated to learn by themselves without the supervision of teachers. MOOCs will need access to high speed internet.