Cape Verde joins virtual campus network
19 May 2009 - The African Virtual Campus has gained a fourth partner: Cape Verde. This latest addition brings the number of countries participating in the campus to four with Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. The African Virtual Campus is one of three UNESCO flagship projects contributing to implementation of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action. The other two concern Capacity-building in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy and Enhancing Science and Technology Education.
On 16–18 March, staff from the University of Cape Verde attended their first sub-regional training workshop for teachers in Dakar (Senegal). Technical and teaching staff from institutions belonging to the network were in Dakar in March to begin producing online courses for students using Cyber Teacher Technology. The virtual campus blends Internet use with classic teaching methods. Also on the workshop programme was how to use communication tools among participating centres and how to use and enrich the virtual regional libraries. Participants also discovered the regional portal of the African Virtual Campus, hosted in French by the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar in Senegal.
As well as participating in the international network, Cape Verde is planning to create its own national network by linking up 10 centres across the archipelago. The project is spearheaded by António Correia e Silva, Rector of the University of Cape Verde, with the backing of Vera Duarte Lobo de Pina, Minister of Education, and Gloria Rendall Ribeiro, Permanent Secretary of the National Commission for UNESCO. Petra Lantz is the project’s focal point at the United Nations’ office in Cape Verde.
Cape Verde being a One UN pilot country, the project will bring together several partners under the One UN Programme. At the government’s behest, the African Virtual Campus will be used to improve the quality and training of teachers at all levels of the education system. Cape Verde has a population of 519 000, with GNP per capita of PPP US$2590. At 72 years, life expectancy is one of the highest in Africa. The country also has one of the continent’s best track records for education. Some 99% of children attend primary school and 97% of those aged 15–24 years are literate. There is a good ratio of 1 teacher to 25 pupils and nearly two-thirds (62%) of secondary teachers have formal training. About 1% of the population is enrolled in tertiary education and slightly over half of university students and their professors are women (Education for All Monitoring Report, 2009).
The African Virtual Campus was launched in July 2008 when Benin became the first host country for the network. Each partner in the African network works closely with universities around the Mediterranean belonging to the original Avicenna Virtual Campus established by UNESCO in 2002 with European Commission funding.
The African Virtual Campus is managed at UNESCO headquarters by Mohamed Miloudi from the Division of Science Policy for Sustainable Development and in West Africa by Ann-Thérèse Ndong-Jatta, Director of UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Education in Africa, located in Dakar. The project also benefits from financial support from the Spanish Agency for Cooperation for International Development (AECID).
The next institutions to join the network will be in Nigeria, Gambia and Togo, by November this year.