African Virtual University expands its network

In a move designed to provide African students with greater access to higher-education opportunities, the African Virtual University (AVU) is launching Open Distance and eLearning Centres  in ten African countries over the next five months. They will be co-located in the following universities: Jimma University in Ethiopia, University of Nairobi in Kenya, Université d‘Antananarivo in Madagascar, Universidade Pedagógica in Mozambique, Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Senegal, Kyambogo University in Uganda, University of Zambia, and the University of Zimbabwe. The centres are set up within the framework of the AVU Multinational Project funded by the African Development Bank.

Founded in 1997, the African Virtual University  is a Pan-African intergovernmental organisation whose aim is significantly to increase access to quality higher education and training through the innovative use of information and communications technologies. It has awarded degrees to 40,000 students across Africa and, with locations in over thirty countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, is the Continent’s largest network of Open Distance and eLearning institutions. Its greatest asset is its ability to work across borders and languages in Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa. In 2009, the AVU trained 133 staff members from 24 universities in 17 countries to use eLearning methods in their curricula and in the management of distance learning programmes.

via eLearning Africa News Portal, 21 Dec 2009

Eritrea developing education MIS

The Eritrean Ministry of Education is currently tendering, locally, for the development of an Education Management Information System. They are looking to hire an international expert for 9 days to check their processes. Not a bad way for African countries to wean themselves off externally dominated contracts…

via DevelopmentAid.org

Makerere to decentralise using video conferencing

Makerere University has embarked on a programme to decongest the university by opening regional centres across Uganda. Students from rural areas will be able to access lectures via a video conference system at five regional centres. The programme, which kicks off next month, follows an agreement signed on Monday between the university and  Uganda Telecom which will provide the communication infrastructure and 2,000 computers. The university will have to pay for the bandwidth.

via Patrick Jaramogi of New Vision on allAfrica.com, 12 Jan 2010

Blocked funds stall Nigerian e-Library project

An E-library project linking all the tertiary and educational institutions in the country to facilitate knowledge sharing and research activities for enhanced quality of education in Nigeria has failed to get off the ground.

The project had been developed by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council on the promise of N40m ($260,000)  in the National Assembly’s 2009 budget, but the funds were never approved by the Executive.

via Erasmus Alaneme of The Daily Champion on allAfrica.com

Free internet for Nigerian universities

The Nigerian Federal Government has said it will establish free universal internet service and viewing centres across tertiary institutions in the country. This is aimed at tackling the problem of low access to cutting-edge ICT  resources among Nigerian students. Minister of State for Information and Communications, Ikra Bilbis, announced this at the weekend while commissioning a public viewing centre built by the ministry in collaboration with the Universal Service Provision Fund in Kaduna.

He said the importance of information technology cannot be over-emphasised, adding that the idea aims at putting information at the fingertips of the Nigerian students and their school communities in order to equip them to meet global challenges. “We are committed to ensuring that facilities of these nature are provided in all the tertiary institutions in the country. Already, we have finished constructing the first phase of the centres in all the six geo-political zones of the country and very soon, we are going to ensure that all schools, including some secondary schools across the six geo-political zones, benefited from the community-based communication programme,” Bilbis said.

via Imam Imam of This Day on allAfrica.com:

Centralised admission system for Tanzanian universities

Early this year University Computing Center Ltd (a company fully owned by the University of Dar es Salaam) was awarded a contract to develop a Centralized Admission System to be used by The Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU). All admission applications to Tanzanian high learning institutions will be done centrally through this system.

Currently, all applicants are applying directly to individual institutions and this forces them to pay multiple application fees for each application in occasions where an applicant has to apply to multiple institutions to increase a chance of being selected. Another challenge is, all the these institution have to submit names of their successful applicants to High Learning Student Loan Board where TCU intervenes manually to remove duplicated entries to avoid multiple loan allocation to applicants. This process in done manually.

The Centralized Admission System addresses the above mentioned challenges. The applicant has to enter only the Index number for O -level and A-level Exams, the system populates the personal details and results from National Examination Council of Tanzania, and if the information provided matches then the applicant can proceed with selecting courses he/she is interested from all registered institutions. All degree programmes have their minimum requirement pre-configured which are used by the selection algorithm.

FSIU @ UDSM node proposed Chisimba framework to used to develop this application. Chisimba is an open source content management system which is the product of collaboration between the 12 African universities who are members of the African Virtual Open Initiatives and Resources group.

The proposal was approved on April 2009 and the first demo of the system to more than 40 representatives from high learning institutions was on 12thNovember, 2009. The demo was successful and the system is expected to be ready for service early next year.

via Frank Tilugulilwa, Team Leader – Free Software Innovation Unit University of Dar es Salaam

Database aims to put African research on the map

An attempt to make African science more visible by tracking the scientific publications of the continent’s scientists is underway.

Africa Science Trackers (AST), based in Stellenbosch, South Africa, aims to record every peer-reviewed paper by African scientists published in both national and international journals as well as information available through non-conventional channels — so-called “grey literature” — since 2000. AST has already collated information on more than 200 electronic and print journals from the continent, most of which come from Nigeria and South Africa.

“We want to tackle the under-representation of African researchers in international indices such as Web of Science, Scopus and Pascal,” says Taurai Imbayarwo, a Zimbabwean science metrics researcher and the founding director of AST. Volunteer southern African scientists have been creating the database for the last ten months but AST hopes to survive as a functioning business by charging researchers from outside Africa — including researchers in the diaspora — to use it. It will be available free to African scientists and institutions by the end of 2010.

“There is good peer-reviewed science on the continent. But this science, for various reasons, is not visible. The number of African scientific journals is not known. Vast amounts of research never circulate beyond the author’s institution,” says Imbayarwo. “If research done in Africa by Africans is lowly cited internationally, it is hardly going to be utilised to improve the socioeconomic development of Africa and its peoples,” he adds.

via Munyaradzi Makoniata of SciDev.Net, 15 Jun 2009

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