Sustainable Integration of Digital Education in the post Covid-19 era

© 2022 EPFL

© 2022 EPFL

The Association of African Universities, The World Bank and EPFL are initiating two regional conferences on "Sustainable Integration of Digital Education in the Post-Covid-19 Era".

The first conference will take place in Cotonou, Benin, on 28-29 April 2022, organised by the Centre of Excellence in Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science and Applications (CEASMIA) of the University of Abomey-Calavi and the Centre for Studies, Training and Research in Social Risk Management (CEFORGRIS) of the Joseph KI-ZERBO University. The second conference is organised in Abuja, Nigeria by the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) of the National Open University of Nigeria, from 12 to 13 May 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent education systems into an historically unprecedented shock, disrupting the lives of nearly 1.6 billion pupils and students in more than 190 countries on every continent. Closures of schools and other learning spaces affected 94% of the world's school-going population, and up to 99% in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

As the crisis exacerbated existing educational disparities, many of the most vulnerable children, youth and adults (those living in poor or rural areas, girls, refugees, people with disabilities and forcibly displaced people) were at risk of not continuing their education.

But, more than ever before, this crisis has paradoxically stimulated innovation in the education sector. For example, we have seen the emergence of innovative initiatives that have allowed teaching and learning activities to continue on radio, television or in the form of home education kits. Similarly, as the need to ensure educational continuity during school closures became the priority of governments around the world, many turned to digital technology, which required teachers to deliver their courses via the Internet.

However, for most universities, the move to e-learning and distance education has been an exceptional challenge; especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is therefore to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on higher education in Africa and prepare for the "new normal" that the ACE Impact project launched in June 2021, a pilot digital education capacity building initiative that consists of 2 main parts:

  1. The establishment of Centres of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) in the participating institutions and
  2. The training of faculty members, pedagogical experts and technicians in the design, production and use of digital educational materials.

At the end of the competition, the African Centre of Excellence in Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science and Applications (CEA-SMIA) of the University of Abomey-Calavi and the Centre for Training, Research and Expertise in Drug Sciences (CEA-CFOREM) of the Joseph KI-ZERBO University are the two centres of excellence selected for Francophone Africa.

For English-speaking Africa, three universities in Nigeria and one in Ghana were selected. The National Open University in Nigeria; the University of Nigeria in Nsukka; Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria and the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani, Ghana are the winners. 30 professors, 3 teaching engineers and 2 technical specialists will be trained in each centre at the end of the project.

The activities related to the implementation of C-CoDE started with the registration of its funding on the implementation plan of the Institutional Impact Indicator (DLI7) of the ACE Impact project; the training of three experts by EPFL for Benin and three others for Burkina-Faso. A training of thirty teachers in Benin and thirty in Burkina-Faso is underway since 7 February 2022 and will end on 25 July 2022. A workshop for pedagogical experts will be organised from 25 to 28 April 2022 for Francophone universities. The same workshop will be held on 12 and 13 May 2022, in Abuja, Nigeria, for the four English-speaking universities.

The process also includes the training of two technicians for video production and the setting up of the learning management system.

Knowing that the full success of the transition to digital education requires that all stakeholders (policy makers, higher education teachers, officials at various levels of the education system, the public and private sectors, etc.) are at the same level of information and carry the initiative in a spirit of solidarity for the achievement of the objectives, the AAU and EPFL are organising in the afternoon of April 28, 2022, and the day of April 29, 2022, and on the afternoon of 12 May 2022 and 13 May 2022, two regional conferences on the "Sustainable Integration of Digital Education in the post-Covid-19 era".