IGNOU to aid in establishing India-Africa Virtual University

Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh while pledging a help of $5 Billion for Africa in next three years in Addis Ababa announced establishment of Indo-Africa Virtual University (IAVU). Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will play a lead role in establishment of this virtual University as it has wide outreach for all level of students in various countries in Africa and it is running various educational programmes in the continent under different schemes. 

“The mission of an India-Africa Virtual University is to create conditions that ensures special priority to further Indo-African relation by establishing an educational link,” said Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU.

The proposal to establish the
Indo-Africa Virtual University (IAVU) was initiated by the Ministry of
External Affairs (MEA) and IGNOU was entrusted with the formulation of
the proposal.

The Prime Minister said, “Following the success of the Pan-African E-Network Project we propose to take the next step and establish an India-Africa Virtual University. This we hope will help to meet some of the demand in Africa for higher studies in Indian institutions. We further propose that 10,000 new scholarships under this proposed University will be available for African students after its establishment. Our total commitment for the next three years by way of scholarships to Africa students will stand at more than 22000.”

The virtual university will ensure Africa-oriented educational programmes are developed effectively in focus areas and fields such as health sciences, vocational education, food and nutritional security, and gender empowerment. IGNOU will help IAVU in promoting collaborations and activities related to mobilise resources of sustainable development in Africa through distance education along with strengthening the exchange and consultation mechanism between India and Africa thereby strengthening the Indo-African states relations.

“The India-Africa Virtual University will also augment the overall participation of African nations in the global educational development process and strengthen inter-regional cooperation between African member nations and India,” Prof. Pillai said.

Higher Education holds importance for the continent as the region has burgeoning number of young people with 7-10 million knocking the doors of labour market every year. According to UNESCO education overview Africa lags behind even poorest of other developing countries in the world. One of the contributing factors inhibiting access to higher education is the lack of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the continent. Thus, it is felt that establishing a virtual University could have access to a very large population in these countries with help of ICT and Africa needs large number of employable graduates and professionals as at present only about five percent of youth have access to university education as compared to world average of 25 percent.          

The IAVU will help in developing professional training programmes which will include teacher training, vocational education, etc.  It will also make evaluation and benchmarking for quality assurance of various educational and training programmes in Africa along with enhancing the capacity building of African educational institutions through use of ICT. 

The proposed University will also establish centre for excellence and conduct research studies and development activities.

IGNOU has strong presence in Africa. The university has partnerships with several countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Cote d’Ivore, Eritrea, Egypt, Mauritius, Rwanda, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, Benin and Madagascar.

by Abhay Anand

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