ADF Approves US$ 23 Million for Distance Learning in Southern Africa

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Tunis, 20 December 2006 – The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) on Wednesday in Tunis approved a grant of 15 Million Units of Account (UA), equivalent to US$ 22.6 million, to finance capacity building in an Open and Distance Learning Project (ODL) in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

The project will develop, among other expected outcomes, the capacity to deploy ODL strategically in four educational areas - Teacher, Secondary, Technical, Vocational and Tertiary Education (through regional policy and strategic planning). It will develop technical capacity in ODL in two of these four areas in the 14 Member States of SADC. "As such, noted Mrs Alice Hamer, Director of the AfDB Human Development Department, the project is not a classic education project but a capacity building operation which will build regional capacity for the effective use of ODL as a tool to help meet educational goals".

This project will put in place frameworks to support the more effective deployment of ODL and will develop the capacity at all levels. This will allow member states to use ODL more effectively at country or regional levels. The project will also finance the establishment of two regional ODL Centers of Specialization (CoS), and the provision of the required technical assistance to build their capacity. In addition, the project will support the provision of training at the CoS and full time technical expertise to enable them to develop strategic plans for future role and for sourcing funding. The built capacity coupled with the fact that each of the two CoS will be housed in the most competitive and sustainable institutions in SADC countries, will contribute to the long term viability and sustainability of these CoS.

Overall, the project will provide support to SADC to fulfil its mandate and complement and reinforce national efforts to harness the vast potential of all available modes of educational delivery to address the educational challenges which the region faces, while encouraging integration and avoiding duplication of efforts. National ODL experts and authorities, who are among the important local operators, will fully participate in decision-making in implementing the project. The project strives to promote partnership between member states, especially the educational communities. Such a partnership is essential from the standpoint of regional integration and harmonization. The project reinforces and promotes a sense of responsibility and ownership among all involved countries.

The SADC ODL Project is the second of two social sector projects to be financed by the Bank under the Bank Group’s Regional Assistance Strategy Paper (RASP) The first one, the Support to the Control of Communicable Diseases (HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) was approved by the Board on 31 May 2006.

The SADC Member States are Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The headquarters is located in Gaborone, Botswana.

*UA 1 = 763.317 CFA = US$ 1.48386 = € 1.16367

CONTACT: Magatte Wade – Tel: +216 71 10 22 44 – E-mail:

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