African Virtual University Project (Phase 2)
- Reference: P-Z1-IAZ-006
- Approval date: 16/12/2011
- Start date: 14/02/2012
- Appraisal Date: 01/06/2011
- Status: OngoingOnGo
- Implementing Agency: AFRICAN VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY
- Location: 24 COUNTRIES IN FOUR AFRICA REGIONS
The project will strengthen capacity of target institutions and the AVU to improve higher education ICT connectivity and to develop, deliver and manage quality ICT-assisted education and training in Teacher Education (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology), Computer Science, and Peace and Conflict Programs. In terms of focus, Phase 2 of the project will continue to enhance the capacities of target Partnering Institutions to deliver quality, flexible, relevant and affordable ICT enhanced educational science and mathematics programs. This will be achieved through four components as outlined below.
Component 1. Establishment of ODeL Centers
This component involves the establishment of new Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) centers and/or upgrading of AVU Learning Centers at the target 27 institutions (PI). Similar to Phase 1, the PIs in each country are required to provide space and a building to host the centers and staff to be trained to run the centers. This is part of counterpart contribution and criteria for identifying the PI. The project will support provision of the required ICT equipment and internet connectivity. The Centers will serve as country hubs for the development of ODeL Programs and training PI staff in the use of ICT in the development, delivery and management of ODeL. The centers will also be the delivery points for current and future ODeL programs and enable staff to conduct research and participate in collaborative work in ODeL through established professional networks. Standard equipment for new ODeL centers will include: Electronics (Power backup, Local Infrastructure, Local Area Network) Audio-video equipment; Software; Learning Management System; video conferencing facilities and Bandwidth. As a lesson from phase 1, internet connectivity will take into account the Local Internet Service Providers as opposed to VSAT technology only. Based on phase 1 outcomes, the centers will also be used by PIs to generate income through short term ICT related trainings to enable them meet the centers recurrent costs including internet connectivity after the project funding period. The design layout of the ODeL center is presented in Technical Annex 12.
Component 2: Training of PIs in AVU Capacity Enhancement Program (ACEP) and Development of ICT enhanced Programs.
The ACEP was designed in Phase 1 to develop required skills for developing and delivering ODeL programs in the PIs through three streams, namely: Materials development for ODeL programs; Delivery and Technology of ODeL programs; and Governance, Management and Financing of ODeL programs. ACEP is delivered through a set of workshops and an online professional development program. ACEP graduates carry out cascade training. This component will also undertake a collaborative approach with subject matter academic staff from targeted PIs to develop and/or improve ICT enhanced programs in the following areas
(i) Math and Science Teacher Education;
(ii) Computer Science; and
(iii) Peace and Conflict Programs. A blended learning approach will be applied where physical laboratory practical are mandatory. Similar to phase 1, this process will be undertaken in a consortium structure with subject matter experts from the participating institutions. Where necessary, consultancy subject matter experts will provide input. The process will involve a series of workshops on curriculum conceptualization, curriculum design, content development, as well as a parallel process of quality assurance. The content materials will be branded to include the AFDB logo. Professional networks in each subject matter will be established to ensure continued engagement beyond the project life and also ensure the modules are constantly updated to including emerging issues. The Quality Assurance Framework developed in phase 1 will be reviewed and adapted to this project. Scholarships will be awarded to women in order to encourage them to purse this science based programs. Similar to the Phase 1 Teacher Education Consortium, AVU will facilitate the creation and hosting of professional networks for Communities of Practice (CoPs) in each of the programs
The gender mainstreaming strategy developed and implemented in phase I will also guide phase 2. Gender Mainstreaming strategy and policies were developed in phase 1 through various consultations with the PIs and countries. The ICT integrated programs to be developed will be gender sensitive. Similar to phase 1, the academic staff will be sensitized on gender issues in HEST to encourage women participation. The 1000 scholarships will be awarded to women for target programs in the PIs within the existing AVU scholarship Fund procedures to ensure accountability for the same and during the project period. Scholarships for women to undertake bridging courses for the target programs will be explored where responses to the degree level scholarships are minimal due to inadequate qualification in sciences.
Component 3: Enhancement of AVU Capacity
The project will facilitate institutional strengthening of AVU to enhance its capacity to:
(i) scale up its current scope of assistance to PIs and countries;
(ii) undertake Open, Distance and E-learning research and training to inform practice as well as Distance and eLearning policies and strategies in Higher Education,
(iii) enhance the ability of AVU to offer quality technical advice to governments and PIs in Distance and E-learning policy/strategy matters, and
(iv) enhance the ability of AVU to offer its academic programs through eLearning. AVU will undertake research and publish reports on ICT-integrated content development processes; e-Learning programs delivery; ODeL methodologies; and Distance and E-learning policy briefs. Similar to Phase 1, AVU will recruit consultants for specialized assignments. AVU will utilize the program development workshops and quality assurance workshops under component 2 to disseminate research findings and publications. The documents will also be posted online for unrestricted access. One new ODeL center will be established at AVU Headquarters in Nairobi and the ODeL Center at the Dakar Regional Office will be upgraded to enhance AVU's capacity for 'ICT in Education' research and technical assistance to PIs and countries. The centers will also enable AVU to train additional institutions in ODeL methodologies. A technical assistance budget will be provided to support the capacity of AVU to delivery this component. A project Monitoring and Evaluation officer will be recruited and supported under this component.
Component 4: Project Management
Under this component, resources will be provided to ensure effective project management. These will include recruiting and financing the services of a dedicated team to fill the capacity gaps of the existing Project Coordination Unit (PCU) set up under Phase 1. The PCU is composed of: Project Manager, ICT Officer; Senior Project Coordinator; Senior Education Programs Coordinator; a Procurement Officer; and Finance and Accounting officer. The Monitoring and Evaluation officer recruited under Component 3 above, will be part of the project team. Similar to Phase 1, the target Partnering Institutions will establish project coordination team to oversee project activities implementation, monitoring and reporting; this is outlined in the agreement to be signed between AVU and target institutions concerning PIs expectations. The PIs PCUs will submit quarterly reports to AVU for review and feedback by the AVU M&E officer. In addition, AVU will carry out biannual monitoring visits to PIs. This activity is included in the detailed cost tables. The AVU will contribute to project management through staff time outside of the core PCU, the project oversight time by the Rector and the AVU Board. The AVU Rector, under the AVU Board of Directors, will provide overall guidance and oversight to the project. The AVU Regional office in Senegal will support project implementation specifically in target Francophone African countries. AVU will work closely with the target institutions to publicize the ICT enhanced E-learning programs. In this regard, AVU's website as well as the target institution's websites will be used. Furthermore, the programs will be included in the overall target institutions academic programs brochures since the programs will be institutionalized.
The development objective of the project is to contribute to increased Higher Education access through quality ICT assisted education and training in Africa. The objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of 27 Partnering Institutions (PIs) in 22 African countries within the AVU network and the African Virtual University (AVU) to develop, deliver and manage quality ICT assisted tertiary education and training opportunities in science and technology programs.
The project supports the implementation of the Bank's RISPs priorities. The Bank's intervention will further strengthen the role of Phase 2 project as an instrument for regional integration in education and ICT. Modules developed by AVU are uploaded in a platform which is accessible to all PIs in three main languages: English, French and Portuguese. Subject matter experts from the PIs participate in the development and approval of modules in line with in-country quality regulations and learning policies. The countries identify the target PIs and provide buildings for the ODEL centers. ACEP has enabled PIs in phase 1 to develop additional modules beyond the teacher education program. The initiative supports NEPAD and AU priorities in enhancing access to higher education through ICT.
The project meets the bank's criteria for Regional Public Good (RPG); the criteria are based on ADF 12 Regional Operations and Prioritization Framework; and the Strategic and Operational Framework for Regional Operations. The project is non-excludable and targets 22 countries that are Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone. The regional dimension is demonstrated by the collaborative approach methodology in the development and harmonization of curriculum for the target ICT enhanced programs. The creation of professional networks as platforms for subject matter expert's interaction, further promotes this regional dimension. AVU will facilitate the target 27 institutions to develop and deliver quality and relevant ICT enhanced programs. In this regard, AVU will play a 'catalytic' role. The subject matter experts in target institutions will develop the technical content of the curriculum. The AVU ACEP will build knowledge and skills in open and distance learning methodologies to enable to target institutions to develop additional ICT enhanced programs beyond the project period. The ICT enhanced modules can be replicated to additional countries within the project period or after. These possibilities demonstrate the incremental benefit of the project outputs and outcomes.
The Bank's intervention is necessary to consolidate and scale up project outcomes from Phase 1. The ICT enhanced Teacher Education Programs in Mathematics and Science will be replicated in eleven (11) PIs that have expressed interest in offering the program and joining the Phase 1 Teacher Education Consortium which will ensure the modules are up-to-date. 219 modules are available in English, French and Portuguese. AVU will play a catalytic role to enable the establishment of 12 new ODeL Centers and upgrading 15 E-learning Centers at twenty seven (27) PIs and to develop ICT enhanced programs in other science and technology fields. Additional staff at the PIs will be trained in writing distance and E-learning courses in ODeL format, web design, e-learning program delivery and ODeL governance. AVU has gained experience and learned valuable lessons in ODeL methodologies in phase 1.
The project supports key selected areas in the Bank's 2008-2012 Medium Term Strategy (MTS) and Bank's ICT operations strategy. These include development of ICT Infrastructure; harnessing ICT applications to increase education access; Regional Integration; support to HEST; Gender Mainstreaming and support to Fragile States. Project outcomes include improved access to higher education through ICT enhanced modules; a common curriculum for target programs across the regions including four fragile states; gender mainstreaming in development of programs modules and scholarships for women to access science programs. The MTS endeavors to promote sustainable growth and competitiveness in Africa. Education is key to achieving the related goals. The current estimate of access to Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa is around 4%. The role of distance education in this context cannot be underestimated. There is urgent need to extend access outside the traditional physical institutions, by developing quality E-Learning capacities within the target institutions.
It is expected that at least 20,000 students will benefit from phase 1 and 2. The target countries include: 9 Francophone countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal); 4 Lusophone countries (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique) and 9 Anglophone countries (Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, and Tanzania).
CHARO Ruth Karimi - OSHD2