Report of the launching ceremony
On 07 July, 2020, UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA), whose mandate is to ensure the enhancement of teacher policies and teacher development in Africa, UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) and UNESCO International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education (UNESCO INRULED), jointly launched an online course entitled: “Online and Distance Learning for Teachers in Africa (ODLTA)”.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the world into an unprecedented health, economic and societal crisis, keeping about 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries out of the classroom, almost half without any learning opportunities, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically with regard to Africa, UNESCO analyses conducted during the last week of April 2020, show that 53 of the 55 AU member countries have decided to close their schools in order to stop the spread of the virus.
This pandemic poses a major threat (dropout, failure, poor learning outcomes, quality) to the stability and efficiency of education systems. It has, among other things, highlighted the weaknesses of different aspects of education systems, particularly those relating to pedagogy and school administration. Most education systems have not succeeded in their efforts to ensure continuity of distance learning.
The numerous consultations, webinars, experience sharing, cooperation and other initiatives in response to COVID 19 have highlighted the importance of distance education to support pedagogical continuity, as well as the high need to train and support teachers in using those online and distance learning tools and approaches.
Aware of this situation, UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) has partnered with UNESCO IITE, UNESCO INRULED and China Open University to develop a course for African education stakeholders, mainly teachers, to train them in the effective and contextualized use of distance teaching/learning and assessment techniques and approaches. An online version of this course has also been developed and hosted at: https://odl.bnu.edu.cn . The course consists in three learning modules:
Module 1: What is distance learning and its implementation in African countries?
Module 2: Effective promotion of distance learning by means of ICTs
Module 3: Tools for distance learning
The course consists of 14 units and a learning guide and tools that encompass issues from readiness for distance learning to how to organize and conduct it online. It is worth mentioning that there are 4 modes available to join the course: online course mode, voice mode (audio only), e-book mode (PDF) and courseware mode (PPT). At the end of the course the participants can obtain an ODLTA certificate signed by UNESCO IICBA, UNESCO IITE and UNESCO INRULED.
This launching ceremony was supported by African Union and UNESCO Nairobi Office. Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE, moderated the session. The opening remarks were delivered by Mrs. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of UNESCO IICBA, who spoke about the context, the partnerships involved and the goal of the course. Mr. Ronghuai Huang, Director UNESCO INRULED spoke about the methodology and the content of the course. Mr. Jing Degang, President of Open University of China spoke about their experience in supporting distance education in Africa, after which Mr. TingWen Chang, Assistant to the Dean, Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University, presented the online platform where the course is currently hosted and explainedhow to use it on PCs and mobile phones.
After this opening, the three institutions, principally IICBA, will promote the course through its network of Ministries of Education and teacher training institutions in Africa, and then enrol and monitor learners in this online course. The next step will include translating this course into French for African French speaking countries.