Cape Verde joins the African Virtual University

Cape Verde has become the latest country to join the African Virtual University, a pan-African intergovernmental organisation aimed at increasing access to quality higher education through innovative use of information and communication technologies.

The Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of the wind-pummelled West African archipelago signed the charter of the African Virtual University, or AVU, last month, becoming its 19th member state.

The number of AVU member countries has increased rapidly from five in 2010 to 19 in 2014.

Other countries that have signed are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania.

The AVU signed an agreement with the African Union Commission in 2012 to promote the use of ICT in education across the continent with a focus on teacher education, content development, infrastructure, quality assurance, open education resources, capacity building and networking.

The AVU was established in 1997 when e-learning was still in its infancy, and has since trained more than 43,000 students and established a large network of distance and e-learning institutions in more than 30 African countries.

The university works across borders and languages in Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa.

Cape Verde

Following the Cape Verde signing, AVU Rector Dr Bakary Diallo welcomed the decision by the tiny African islands off the coast of Senegal, a popular tourist destination.

"This is testimony to the confidence the government has in the AVU's ability to deliver tertiary education on the continent through information and communication technologies," he said.

Officials said the charter would further strengthen the university's cooperation with Cape Verde, which is one of 21 African countries currently benefiting from the US$15 million AVU Multinational Support Project Phase II funded by the African Development Bank.

The project includes establishing and upgrading open distance and e-learning centres among participating institutions, gender mainstreaming through scholarships for woman students, and research and development.

It also offers technical assistance to countries and universities, enhancing the use of open educational resources, implementing teacher education, computer science, and peace and conflict resolution programmes as well as an AVU capacity enhancement programme.