The African Knowledge Exchange (AKE), a multi-country workshop, was organised by the Global e-Schools Communities Initiative (GeSCI) on 3rd – 4th December 2007, in Nairobi, Kenya.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)-supported education is currently a core component of the development plans of most African governments. ICTs are being integrated into many national educational systems in order to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of “Education for All” (EFA).
GeSCI was established in 2004 with the mission to assist developing countries reduce poverty by improving education through the use of ICTs. To achieve this mission, GeSCI works directly with developing country governments in partner countries, and specifically their Ministries of Education and other stakeholders using a comprehensive, demand driven, contextualised, coordinated and multi-stakeholder approach. GeSCI's work is based on real needs and demands of stakeholders. Based on information collected through various methods, e.g. workshops, surveys, interviews and experiences in partner countries, 3 key gaps were identified in ICT in education initiatives and addressing these gaps have formed the core of GeSCI activities:
Designing and implementing ICT in Education policies and plans
Building capacities within Ministries of Education to effectively implement their ICT policies and plans;
Utilising ICTs cost-effectively to achieve educational objectives.
GeSCI conducted a multi-country workshop on Teacher Professional Development (TPD) in Namibia in September 2006. The countries represented at the workshop were Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Based on the recurring issues discussed during that workshop, the conclusion from the workshop was that GeSCI would include a work stream on ICTs in Teaching and Learning amongst its other work streams to respond to the needs of its partner countries while addressing the key gaps indicated above.
The strategic objective of the African Knowledge Exchange workshop was to explore the domain e-Learning for increasing access to education in the Sub-Saharan region. It aimed to understand the requirements, cost-effectiveness and implementation of learning network systems as an integrated approach to the overall plans and initiatives of the invited countries.
The broad objectives were:
Share information with invited countries on lessons learned from GeSCI' work in Namibia
Share information, trends and developments in the field of e-Learning and e-Learning centres (Elc) and outline the process of integrating e-Learning into National learning systems
Facilitate peer-to-peer exchange on e-Learning programmes amongst countries
Explore the establishment of Sub-saharan African e-Learning working group
Introduce GeSCI' Africa Regional Office in Nairobi to the invited countries
Opening Remarks: Astrid Dufborg, Executive Director, GeSCI
Astrid Dufbrorg gave the opening remarks with a brief introduction of GeSCI and its work areas across countries as a demand-driven organisation, GeSCI' presence in three continents that brings varied perspectives to the work. She introduced the strong alliances that have been formed with African countries in building institutional and knowledge capacity of the government and administrators in implementing ICT in education in their respective countries. The work in Ghana, Namibia, Rajasthan was highlighted with launching of the ICT in implementation plan in Namibia as a success story and development of tools integrating education for effective ICT in education policy. India (Rajasthan)' initiative was introduced to the invited countries while also sharing the ICT in Education policy building process with Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in India.
Some suggestions are made for an end to end concept of using ICT and e-Learning, identify appropriate technology, peer-to-peer learning, scalability of e-Learning, structures for knowledge building and sharing, develop multi-stakeholder partnerships, address thematic areas, and for pedagogy-focus.
Introduction to AKE Workshop: Khalid Bomba, Regional Director Africa, GeSCI
Khalid Bomba highlighted the aims and objectives of the workshop, introducing AKE as a platform for invited countries to participate and contribute their issues and concerns. He highlighted GeSCI-Africa Knowledge Exchange initiative as a sustainable forum for moving towards a continued dialogue and partnership for knowledge sharing and knowledge building amongst the African countries.
Keynote : Kennedy Khara, Directorate of e-Government, Govt of Kenya
Kenya has made strides in integrating ICT in the governance systems. The country was also host to the Africa e-Learning initiative last year. The increasing progress of IT infrastructure is creating spin-effects in education sector. Representing the Directorate of e-Government, Khara highlighted the success and achievements of his department in integrating technology applications in governance services. He oriented the invited countries on the structure of institutional capacity developed by Kenya; each Government department has an ICT unit, for conducting and co-ordinating activities in ICT. Integrating e-Learning in education and heath has already begun followed by announcement of e-Government strategy in March 2004. He voiced his concern over the delay in the implementation plan roll-outs, citing the dynamics of technology as a core challenge of the government to continuously update and revise plans. Aprt from highlighting capacity building as the major challenge for the country in implementing ICT initiatives, Khara promoted building communities of practice on e-Learning inviting all regional players to address issues of digital divide in the rural areas.
Buzz Groups for Introduction
After lunch, a prese