University leads Burundi in adopting open education and e-learning

Officials and ULBu student representatives at the launching ceremonies.

Officials and ULBu student representatives at the launching ceremonies.

Université Lumière de Bujumbura (ULBu), a private university, is to use online teaching to overcome the lack of physical infrastructure, qualified teachers and adequate educational materials. In partnership with African Virtual University (AVU), ULBu officially inaugurated the centre for Distance and e-Learning Open Training on Friday 14 October.

Rev. Paul Ntukamazina, the Legal Representative of ULBu, said “we can’t build enough classrooms for our growing number of students nor have all the necessary human and material resources needed for a quality higher education. Distance and e-learning within the framework of AVU will help us overcome those obstacles”.

In the same way, Dr Bakary Diallo, the AVU’s Rector who was present at the event, said that “it is the right moment particularly for sub-subharian Africa to start using open and distance education and e-learning to meet the growing needs in affordable and quality education”.

Courses at the new centre, part of a pan-African AVU project, will be available in three languages, namely English, French and Portuguese. Through the project, the AVU seeks to achieve its objective of ensuring that “people have access to the 21st Century skills that they will need to advance themselves and the continent”, said Dr Bakary.

The centre launched at the ULBu in Burundi was the 7th of the 29 centres for distance education and e-learning the AVU intends to open in 21 African countries. The AVU is financially backed by the AfDB. The distance learning will start next January with Applied Computer Sciences Programme that was developed by experts from 18 African higher education institutions.

Burundi is one of the countries that would take advantage of the opportunities offered by the AVU. Classrooms at all levels are overcrowded; qualified teachers to help students acquire skills necessary for the 21st century are very few. In addition, access to IT equipment is very limited. Distance education and e-learning would help overcome those obstacles.

However, the number of people who have access to the internet is too little (4.9% in November 2015 according to the Internet World Statistics) and those who can afford necessary materials are very few. The project might benefit the few who can afford high-speed connection and the necessary equipment that cannot be provided by the learning centre.