NWU hosts Africa leaders in distance education
The North-West University’s (NWU's) Unit for Open Distance Learning welcomed several leaders in distance education in Africa for its Executive Board Meeting.
The African Council for Distance Education is a continental educational organisation comprising of African universities and other higher education institutions, which are committed to expanding access to quality education and training through open and distance learning (ODL), including e-learning.
The President of the ACDE, Prof Primrose Kurasha, Vice-Chancellor of the Zimbabwe Open University, said the organisation was formally launched in 2004 in Kenya and was registered under Kenyan law as an International educational non-profit organisation. The ACDE held its first inaugural conference in 2005 at UNISA in Pretoria.
Currently the ACDE have 53 institutional members (institutes of learning providing distance learning), seven associate members (national of regional distance learning associations and organizations) en 273 individual members (educators, researchers, scholars of students). Its membership is spread across twelve African countries.
Kurasha said the ACDE is running six programmes, Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency (hosted by National Open University of Nigeria), Technical Committee on Collaboration (Open University of Tanzania), Information and Communication Technology (Open University of Sudan), the ACDE Open Distance Learning database (University of South Africa - UNISA), a scholarship programme (Secretariat in Nairobi) and the Journal of Distance Education (Secretariat in Nairobi).
The organisation was formally recognised as the leading ODL agency in Africa at the Conference of Educational Ministers in Africa in 2011. At the same conference in 2013 the ACDE was identified as the lead coordination agency for the Continental Teacher Development Roadmap, with the objective for greater use of distance learning to improve access to teacher training.
The vice-chancellor of the NWU, Prof Dan Kgwadi, said in his welcoming address that the NWU currently has more than 26 000 distance students, mainly for teacher education. “There is a need in South Africa for higher education that cannot be satisfied through contact or full-time studies.
“It is because of this that we place great emphasis on distance learning, and are currently expanding to different fields of training.”