African universities will give an additional 10 million people the chance to get a degree with access to the continent’s largest e-learning platform. Through a partnership with the Association of African Universities, eLearnAfrica will give students who face barriers like cost and distance access to high-calibre courses from schools like Harvard, MIT and Cambridge. eLearnAfrica, a social enterprise, will provide access to content for free, and only charge to host courses.
Results & Impact
The partnership will allow African universities to expand their offerings, grow class sizes without physical expansion and reach Africans living in remote areas who otherwise would not be able to go to university. eLearnAfrica expects that 10 million students will use its courses to earn a university degree over the next three years. The program has already been rolled out successfully at the University of Zambia, where 3,000 use the platform
eLearnAfrica, the Association of African Universities
eLearnAfrica will make its online catalogue of 1,000 licensed courses available to the 380 AAU member universities, and support them as they produce their own, locally relevant classes. The AAU will support member universities as they implement online learning
Students across Africa
Cost & Value
eLearnAfrica will provide the service to African universities at no cost
Running since February 2017
eLearnAfrica anticipates that some professors may have trouble using the platform to create courses. To pre-empt this potential obstacle, the company is working with the AAU to conduct an instructive webinar for professors
African universities will give 10 million more people the chance to earn a degree by offering online courses from universities like Harvard, MIT and Cambridge.
The Association of African Universities (AAU) has partnered with eLearnAfrica, a social enterprise and the continent’s largest online learning platform, to expand universities’ reach to underserved areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, only 6% of young people are enrolled in higher education. Would-be students face barriers like cost, distance and competition for limited spaces.
“I have people very close to me who were not able to complete high school because they became refugees – once you hit your 20s, from an African perspective, there are a lot of responsibilities. You’re working to support your family, so even finishing high school becomes a huge problem. We’re offering an opportunity: if you can get a certificate through online learning, you’re a little closer to freedom,” said Brook Negussie, the Ethiopian-born CEO of eLearnAfrica.
eLearnAfrica will provide their content for free to universities, and only charge to host courses – which is optional. “We’re trying to be disruptive,” explains Negussie. “Hopefully we’ll see a great collaboration where students in East Africa are taking courses from West African universities and vice versa, and I hope that creates a conversation.”
The AAU, which convenes and advocates for 380 higher learning institutions across the continent, will support member universities as they implement online learning. eLearnAfrica will make its online catalogue of 1,000 licensed courses available to all AAU-affiliated universities, and support them as they produce and design their own, locally relevant classes.
The program has already been rolled out successfully at the University of Zambia, where 3,000 students are taking courses online.
“The plan is to initially work with pilot universities to achieve traction before rolling this out to more AAU members. We are aware that our members are at varying levels in terms of their e-learning strategies. We will therefore work with those that have clear visions for e-learning and use our annual platforms to motivate those lagging to consider prioritising e-learning for their universities,” said Ms Nodumo Dhlamini, Director of Information Communications Technology Services & Knowledge Management at the AAU. “E-learning implementation requires a paradigm shift. We expect some of our members to be skeptical.”
According to Dhlamini, the AAU hopes the partnership will allow “non-traditional students” flexible learning opportunities and give disadvantaged communities access to higher education.
eLearnAfrica’s course catalogue is bolstered by partnerships with other e-learning platforms, including edX, FutureLearn and itSM Mentor, which provides vocational training in subjects like software development and business administration. The company expects that 10 million students will use its courses to earn a university degree over the next three years.
The partnership will allow universities to expand their offerings, grow class sizes without physical expansion and reach Africans living in remote areas who otherwise would not be able to go to university. Courses are user-friendly and available in mobile format, to accommodate people who do not have computer access.
“Our approach with AAU was to find a way where we could collaborate and make our courses accessible to students through member universities, to bring education to people who wouldn’t have the ability to get higher education due to circumstances beyond their control,” said Negussie.
The biggest challenge to rolling out online learning is making sure educators understand how to use the platform to create courses. To pre-empt this potential problem, eLearnAfrica is working with the AAU to conduct an instructive webinar for professors.
Overcrowding is a major problem for African universities: according to a report by the Africa-America Institute, there are 50% more students per professor at African universities in comparison to the global average. Online learning partnerships offer a unique solution to this problem.
According to a report by market research firm Ambient Insights, Africa’s e-learning market doubled from 2011 to 2016, and is now worth $513 million. South Africa is the continent’s largest market, followed by Angola, Nigeria and Tunisia.
(Picture credit: Flickr/Sean J)