Partnerships as a strategy to enhance eLearning in African universities
The apparent poor record of African universities and centers of higher education in aiding national development can be partly attributed to the myriad challenges they have faced in the past. For instance, many have been forced to finance their budget deficits due to disengagement of the state. With a view to improving academic capacity in Africa, what can be done to mitigate this problem? Integration of technology in education is increasingly viewed by stakeholders in the continent as a plausible strategy. Conventional and non-conventional educational forms have found the use of information technology very effective in widening and enhancing educational provision through eLearning, especially in higher education. As a result, the need to expand and enhance eLearning has increased with several institutions and organizations investing in online teaching.
eLearning provides the framework to integrate technology in the methods of learning and delivery of education to create a continuous learning platform. Besides, it has the advantages of having a wider coverage. However, many institutions in Africa still face several challenges in installing and enhancing their programs through computer-mediated learning or eLearning since this mode of instruction requires heavy resource investment in information technology. To overcome this hurdle, some African countries have begun to pursue opportunities for collaboration as can be seen in the rise in partnerships with donor agencies. Such partnerships generally provide opportunity for mobilizing the necessary financial resources for developing and supporting eLearning platforms and infrastructure. These collaborations have resulted in the transformation of production, utilization and creation of knowledge.
Some capacity building agencies have adopted this partnership model and have since begun to offer assistance to African educational institutions as part of their outreach capacity building initiatives. The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) is one such institution that seeks to strengthen capacity of many institutions of higher learning in Africa. ACBF support has specifically targeted the technological environment as a means to position African institutions of higher learning in the global technological sphere. In a paper presented by Franklin Mutahakana and Hardson Kwandayi at the 2013 1st International Conference of the African Virtual University, the two researchers used the partnership model between ACBF and Africa University (in Zimbabwe) to showcase how donor agencies and institutions of higher learning can partner/collaborate to strengthen institutional capacity for effective eLearning in Africa.