UNESCO picks OUT as regional model

19Mar 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
UNESCO picks OUT as regional model

THE Open University of Tanzania (OUT) has been appointed as a centre of excellence in distance learning in Africa to help other countries adopt its successful model as the East Africa region drags its feet in adopting the system.

THE Open University of Tanzania (OUT) Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Prof Deus Ngaruko

OUT Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Prof Deus Ngaruko said yesterday that the institution has been selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to prepare and disseminate a distance learning curriculum to be used by open universities in Africa.

With exception of Tanzania, the rest of the East African Community bloc lags behind in distance learning because there is no single country with an operating Open University, he stated.

“There is an issue with quality assurance bodies in the East Africa region on distance learning which is also making  member countries reluctant to adopt this kind of education,” said Prof Ngaroka.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with a visiting delegation from the Botswana Open University (BOU), touring the country to learn how to successfully run such an institution as an independent university with the same structure as other universities but offering distance education.

Other areas that the delegation was seeking to document at OUT is how to handle students and maintaining them as active learners for the rest of their study time since they are vulnerable to dropout due owing to the distance factor.

The don said that it is easier to operate the system in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) zone than in the East African region.

Prof Ngaruka cited Rwanda where the institution wanted to open a campus but were asked to set up a laboratory, build classrooms and have resident lectures, a condition that is not consonant with distance learning as such.

Prof Frank Youngman, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from BOU said OUT has a big reputation in terms of distance learning education provision.

It was thus important for Botswana University to get some experience from OUT, taking into consideration that the BOU is only one year old, he pointed out.