ODL and ICTs for Teacher Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Experience of the Commonwealth of Learning
BOCODOL WORKSHOP, Gaborone, Botswana, 1 September, 2005, ODL and ICTs for Teacher Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Experience of the Commonwealth of Learning By: Sir John Daniel & Mohan Menon, Commonwealth of Learning // It is a pleasure to be invited to speak to you at this BOCODOL [Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning] Workshop on the final day of a three-week trip that will have taken me around the world from Vancouver to Vancouver through eight countries of southern Africa. Southern Africa is the most distant part of the Commonwealth from Vancouver, so once I was here it made sense to visit all the Commonwealth countries of the region. It is good to end here in Botswana at BOCODOL, because throughout my trip I have found great interest in the development of SARDEC [the Southern African Regional Distance Education Centre]. // My instructions for my remarks today were to present a paper on any aspect of ODL that I feel will benefit the region. This is in the context of strengthening the capacity-building programme being undertaken by SARDEC with COL's support. This morning, at the WITFOR [World Information Technology Forum] conference, I talked about eLearning and the huge potential importance to Africa of the combination of increasing connectivity and open educational resources, the re-usable learning objects that we can now create in electronic form. // You obviously don't want to hear the same speech, so this afternoon I am going to talk about teacher education. My title is: ODL and ICTs for teacher development in Sub-Saharan Africa: the experience of the Commonwealth of Learning and I have prepared this paper with the help of my distinguished colleague Professor Mohan Menon, who is in charge of the area of teacher education and school development at COL. // The essence of COL's work is the application of technology to learning for purposes of development. You are all familiar with the Millennium Development Goals, the MDGs. Achieving these goals will be challenging for many African countries, because their attainment requires many different types of intervention. However, a common requirement for progress to all the eight goals is a massive increase in learning. COL is increasingly using the framework of the MDGs to define its work, which is leading us to try to contribute to the fight against poverty and hunger through lifelong learning for farmers and to the struggle against disease by helping the masses to learn how to live healthy lives. // But the MDG that stands out, because it provides the foundation for progress to all the others, is the goal of basic education for all. It is in this context that COL is engaged in helping countries to train and develop their teachers. However good we are at using technology to support schooling, children need teachers. They are fundamental to school development, which is why we call Professor Menon's area 'Teacher Education and School Development'. You are all well aware of the challenge.