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African varsities should prepare for blended learning post Covid-19 –  Experts

Africa’s education experts have asked management of universities across the continent to make investment in infrastructure to accommodate blended learning their priority post Covid-19.
They noted that the challenges faced during the closure of schools occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that relying only brick and mortar format could constitute a setback to learning considering that education cannot remain the same again without a readily available cure and vaccine for the coronavirus.
Adam Habib, vice-chancellor and principal, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa observes that the new approach to online classes as stop gap to teaching during this period of covid-19 won’t be a replacement for the face to face learning, rather it would serve as complementary option to face to face in what is best describe as a kind of blended learning in operation.
Speaking during a webinar on ‘COVID-19 and Africa’s Higher Education System: What is going on? recently, Habib says that the online approach that most African universities are trying to adopt is what is typically obtainable in parts of Western Europe, United States and Asia.
According to him, in another way, what we have done is not too different; rather we have in a very real sense confronted the issue of inequality and find quick solutions to those challenges.
The session moderated by Ahmed Bawa, chief executive officer, Universities South Africa was organised by the Centre for Higher Education, Innovation and Development (Nigeria), in collaboration with BusinessDay (Nigeria) and Universities South Africa.
He highlighted that there is a very deep learning inequality in Africa as large number of the student’s population don’t to have access to computers, data which is affecting learning and migration to online learning.
According to him, “Social justice does not mean we go to the lowest common denominator option, but we are aware of inequality, we should be assisting and try to mitigate it consequences and lend a helping hand to those who require it”.
Aziza El Lozy, Associate Provost for Transformative Learning and Teaching, The American University in Cairo, Egypt; harped on the fact that Africa universities needs to invest in its faculty capacity to prepare for blended learning during and post Covid-19.
She hopes that such as this will evoke innovation in university faculty for better and sustainable way to approach blended learning.
“One main lesson to learn is that if you are going to go online, even if it is blended, the design of the course is very different and that is where the challenge comes in. so university management needs support for faculty to help them come up with design curriculum.
In American University in Cairo, Egypt pre-emptive step to tackles the learning challenges pose by Coronavirus pandemic, El Lozy said the provost had already put in plan a contingency plan and prepare for the covid19 before it came into Egypt by establishing a center for learning and teaching focused on capacity development of the various faculty members.
The session, the first in a two-part series seeks to understand how individual institutions within the  continent are coping and dealing with the challenges occasioned by COVID-19.

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