VC laments prisoners’ distance education lock out

15Mar 2019
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
VC laments prisoners’ distance education lock out

LESS privileged groups and individuals in the country cannot access distance learning programmes they are entitled to because of unfriendly laws and costs, a top educator has declared.

Prof Elifas Bisanda, Vice Chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT)

Prof Elifas Bisanda, Vice Chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that distance learning programmes are digitized while laws bar inmates from owning electronic devices.

Also, poor and nomadic communities cannot access this kind of education provided through modern technology because of the nature of their livelihoods and related costs, he stated.

He was addressing the opening session of a two day conference of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE) in Dar es Salaam where a number of vice chancellors from similar institutions are attending.

“There are many issues we are trying to work on to reach the disadvantaged groups including nomadic groups and other disadvantaged,” the VC underlined.

Prof Bisanda noted that the syllabus for the provision of open distance education for instance in Tanzania is online oriented while laws do not allow prisoners to own phones and other gadgets.

Other challenges include distance, while bias towards distance education also hinders learning institutions to reach out with the services to people behind bars in Africa.

 Most societies feel that distance education is not of high quality compared to classroom education offered by campus-based institutions which is not the case, he told the gathering.

ACDE is a continental educational organization comprising African universities and other higher education institutions which are committed to expanding access to quality education and training through open and distance learning.

The Pan-African body of open distance learning institutions also strives to ensure partnership among universities in areas of data base, quality assurance and Information Communication Technology.

In his remarks, the Executive Director for ACDE, Prof Rotimi Ogidan from Nigeria said the institution has been very helpful in terms of knowledge sharing on how to run distance education as well as conducting examinations.

The ODL mode of education has proved to be one of the major means of reaching masses of people for education and training, he added.

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