New e-campus platform launched for Francophone Africa

In an effort to provide quality higher education for students in countries on the horn of Africa, the University of Djibouti has launched an e-campus – placing it at the forefront of online learning in the region.

The initiative was officially launched by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh in May, according to the University of Djibouti website.

“The establishment of the e-campus will enable Djibouti to expand access to higher education through e-learning and to improve the quality of teaching, learning and research through enhanced use of virtual libraries, open educational resources and virtual knowledge networks,” said Juma Shabani, former director of development, coordination and monitoring of UNESCO programmes with special focus on Africa.

The initiative would also facilitate implementation of bachelor-master-doctorate reform, which many Francophone African countries have undertaken in line with Europe’s Bologna process, Shabani told University World News.

The University of Djibouti has implemented a sophisticated software system to help it achieve its ambition to deliver tertiary education to students in countries on the horn of Africa.

“Thus, the new e-campus could serve as a model for other Francophone countries,” Shabani pointed out. With more than 5,000 students, the university hopes to become an education leader on the horn of Africa.

Growth of online learning

According to the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, the past decade has seen a proliferation of online and distance learning players in the sub-region, with little mission coordination or institutional collaboration.

As e-learning is increasingly viewed as a viable alternative for traditional higher education systems, in French-speaking Africa because of limited indigenous higher education infrastructure, several e-initiatives are under way.

The recently launched World Francophone e-University uses web communication to provide quality postgraduate education to professionals in the developing world.

And there are plans by Senegal for the African University of the Future, which will beam postgraduate courses via satellite from the United States to partner institutions across French-speaking Africa. The Texas International Education Consortium is the lead partner and investor in the project.

“A well-coordinated e-campus could help in enhancing university access in countries in French-speaking Africa as the vast majority of them do not provide sufficient financial support to sustain large-scale, face-to-face traditional higher education systems,” Samir Khalaf Abd-El-Aal, a science and technology expert, told University World News.

“However, poor technological infrastructure, low bandwidth availability and language remain important barriers to online access in most countries in French-speaking Africa.”