Cape Verde joins virtual campus network

The African Virtual Campus for Science and Technology gained a new partner on 16–18 March 2009 when staff from the University of Cape Verde attended a sub-regional training workshop for teachers in Dakar (Senegal). This latest addition brings the number of participating countries to four: Benin, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire and 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. 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$2,590 per year. 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 [UNESCO (2009) Education for All Monitoring Report].

The African Virtual Campus was launched in July 2008 when Benin became the first host country for the network. It is one of three UNESCO flagship projects contributing to implementation of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action, adopted by the continent’s science ministers in 2005. The other two UNESCO flagship projects are Capacity-building in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy and Enhancing Science and Technology Education.

The African Virtual Campus is managed at UNESCO headquarters by Mohamed Miloudi from the Division for Science Policy and Capacity-building 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).

Joining the network before the end of the year will be institutions in Nigeria, Gambia and Togo.

A video still of Prof. Tako from the virtual campus in Côte d’Ivoire giving an online lecture in medicine. He is using Cyber Teacher Technology. Each lecture is archived so that students may view it repeatedly if they wish.

For details:

Source: A World of Science, volume 7, number 3, July-September 2009

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