UNESCO and West African universities validate technical specifications for ICT infrastructure
In the framework of a UNESCO project to support the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for capacity building and the implementation of degree cycle reforms in institutions of higher education in West Africa, the UNESCO Bamako Cluster Office held a seminar on the technical specifications of the project’s ICT infrastructure from 11 to 12 October in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
At the seminar, the specifications were approved by UNESCO and a selected university from each of the eight countries in the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA) region: University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin; University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; University of Cocody, Ivory Coast; Universities of Bamako (USTTB, ULSHB, USJPB, USSGB), Mali; Abdou Moumouni University, Niger; Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal; and University of Lomé, Togo.
Following UNESCO and UEMOA’s agreement signed on 11 February 2011, and the first planning meeting of key stakeholders at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 4 to 6 July 2012, the implementation of the degree cycle reform (or License-Maitrise-Doctorat, LMD reform) in the region took a step further this month in the consultative meeting for the “Technical Specifications Guide” on the technical infrastructure of the project.
The consultation was opened by Dr Seydou Sissouma, UEMOA Commissioner, who underscored the importance of the project for the UEMOA region in meeting the challenges to higher education.
Professor Juma Shabani, Director of the UNESCO Office in Bamako, outlined the progress of the implementation process and the fruitful collaboration between partners, stating that “all partners are very enthusiastic about this project and want to see it succeed for the enrichment of higher education in the region.”
The “Technical Specifications Guide” was presented to the invited delegates, including directors of IT services at the eight UEMOA partner universities and representatives of the following principal organizations: APSED, the African Virtual University (AVU), the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), the Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l'Enseignement Supérieur (CAMES), the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), the Réseau pour l’Excellence de l’Enseignement Supérieur de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (REESAO), the 2IE Fondation, the Ecole de Bibliothécaires, Archivistes et Documentalistes (EBAD) and the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD). The specifications were drafted by the research and consulting firm APSED, in collaboration with UNESCO.
As stated by Professor Alex Corenthin, Director of Information Systems University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, “the main factor for the success of the project is confidence in the capacities of the target institutions to implement the activities as part of their commitment to strive for a university which is on par with the expectations of all university stakeholders”.
The specification document’s objective is to define the basic requirement of the services that the future partners and contractors will provide in the implementation of the three components of the project:
- Development of physical and virtual ICT infrastructures;
- Equipment and computer and telecommunications hardware
- Capacity building in the use of ICTs to improve the quality of teaching, learning, research and university governance in order to ensure effective implementation of the LMD reform, and the use of virtual technologies developed to provide quality training to higher education institutions and centers of excellence in UEMOA member states.
The UNESCO Communication and Information Sector works closely with the UNESCO Office in Bamako, regional partners, and participating universities for the implementation of Component III which is divided into six activities:
- E-learning using Open Educational Resources (OER)
- Network of virtual libraries and digital repositories / Open Access
- Information literacy
- Accessibility for people with disabilities
- Web portal for universities and access to scientific multilingual content
- Online credit transfer
UNESCO’s Education Sector is also an important partner in the implementation of this project.