Six universities in Africa, including Kabale University in the southwestern Ugandan District of Kabale, have secured a partnership with Switzerland-based Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Morocco-based Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique to enhance digital learning and education on the continent.
Named the “Centre of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE)”, the project, valued at 40,000 Swiss Francs (equivalent to UGX 175.626 million), was endorsed in a memorandum of understanding signed between the parties on May 18, 2021. While 44 universities in Africa applied for the partnership, only six were successful.
These include Kabale University from Kabale District in Uganda, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology from Arusha, Tanzania, Moi University from Kenya, University of Abuja in Nigeria, Ecole Supérieure Multinationale des Télécommunications from Dakar, Senegal, and Université Nangui Abrogoua from Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Under the “Centre of Competence in Digital Education” project, EPFL established an E-learning laboratory consisting of a multimedia studio, production equipment, and Information Technology (IT) equipment at Kabale University. EPFL also provided capacity building in the form of training University Information Technology staff in online pedagogical engineering skills (Digital Instruction Design), Digital Studio production, Open edX (a free, open-source learning platform developed to deliver online courses tailored to the needs of learners and educators), and training professors at the university in online course delivery.
Speaking during the launch of the project on Wednesday evening, Andres Gomez, an E-learning Specialist and a Swiss national, expressed optimism that the project will achieve its goals without encountering any bottlenecks.
Professor Joy Constance Kwesiga, Vice Chancellor of Kabale University, and Dr. Nicholas Thaddeus Kamara, Kabale Municipality MP, stated that the project will benefit learners, especially primary school teachers who are compelled by the government to advance from lower to upper grade levels, despite their meager salaries.
Kamara and Kwesiga also noted that the project will enable lecturers to send recorded notes and explanations to students for replaying and better understanding. Citing the effects of Covid-19 that led to the closure of educational institutions, they emphasized that such innovation will allow the university to remain operational even during pandemic surges.