‘Meta-portal’ of higher education resources in French

The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie or AUF has launched a virtual repository of educational resources called ‘meta-portal IDNEUF’ to provide free access to Francophone university resources. The global launch was held in Mali – Africa is the continent with the largest number of French speakers, 96.2 million.

The launch of IDNEUF took place at the second meeting of Francophone ministers of higher education, held under the theme “Initiative for digital development in the Francophone education space” in Mali’s capital Bamako from 17-18 June.

The meeting was organised by Mali's Ministry of Higher Education, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie or IOF and the AUF – an international association based in Canada that brings together 812 French-speaking universities in 104 countries, and one of the world’s largest higher education and research associations.

The meta-portal IDNEUF is a result of recommendations from the first meeting of Francophone higher education ministers, held in Paris in June 2015, and an initiative to promote the use of digital technology in higher education institutions.

According to the IOF, French is the ninth most widely spoken language in the world and, with English, the only language spoken on all continents. French is also the third most widely used language on the World Wide Web, with 5% of internet pages, after English (45%) and German (7%) and ahead of Spanish (4.5%).

Virtual educational repository

The meta-portal provides access to educational and scientific resources that are provided voluntarily by members of the Francophone university community.

It also provides resources that can guide policy-makers in deploying digital technology to higher education institutions, from ideas for strategy development to evaluation and implementation.

Education resources are classified by country, subject or resource type to allow users to narrow their searches and easily obtain the documents they desire.

The portal can be used to find resources to support teaching and training, to access user guides, to implement digital policies, to identify training and contact the institution offering it, and a calendar of events on digital technology – “and all this in a variety of areas”, Michaëlle Jean, secretary general of the IOF, was quoted as saying at the meeting.

The portal is intended for all people in universities and other higher education and research institutions – students, lecturers, managers, engineers, technicians and administrative staff – who are interested in and affected by the use of digital technology in education.

At the time of the launch, the portal had collected nearly 37,000 university resources produced by 16 countries, including eight countries from Africa – Tunisia, Morocco, Cameroon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Benin and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Way forward

The meeting declaration called on the AUF to continue building the meta-portal – including operational implementation, regular maintenance and enrichment – and on countries to help finance the portal to “ensure the sustainability of its operation and its development”.

A three-year plan to promote public-private partnerships for the development of information and communication technologies in the Francophone education space was also approved. It includes supporting the production of digital educational resources and training of trainers in digital pedagogy.

The third meeting of Francophone higher education ministers will be held in Morocco next year.