The African Union has adopted its Agenda 2063, which is the continents collective vision and roadmap for the next 50 years. The Agenda 2063 recognizes Science, Technology and Innovation as one of the major drivers and enablers for achieving development goals of the African Union and its Member States. The Agenda articulates that Africa’s sustained growth, competitiveness and economic transformation will require investments in new technologies and innovations including in the areas of education, health and bio-sciences, agriculture, and clean energy.
One of the aspirations of Agenda 2063 is the need to catalyse an Education and Skills revolution and actively promote science, technology, research and innovation, with the ultimate aim of building knowledge, human resources, capabilities and skills for Africa’s future. The Agenda envisages developing a world class human capital to drive Africa’s economic and technological transformation through universal access to quality education. From early childhood education to primary, secondary, technical, vocational and higher education, Africa is expected to witness a true renaissance, through investments made, as governments and the private sector in education, science, technology, research and innovation. In the Africa of 2063, at least 70% of all high school graduates will have access to tertiary education with 70% of them graduating in the sciences, technology and innovation programmes. With the high growth rate of Africa’s population and its relative youthfulness, the challenges of achieving the education and skills development goals of Agenda 2063 are immense.
The Pan African Virtual and E- University (PAVEU) is one of AU’s flagship projects that has been proposed for addressing the Agenda 2063 need for accelerating development of human capital, science and technology and innovation through increasing access to tertiary and continuing education in Africa by capitalizing on the digital revolution and global knowledge; reaching large numbers of students and professionals in multiple sites simultaneously- anywhere, anytime; and by consolidating African initiatives and strategies on accelerated development of human capital; science, technology and innovation.
VISION, MISSION, SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES
To be a leading centre of excellence in providing open access to online higher education and research for the advancement of Africa
To provide world class inclusive quality-assured and relevant education to Africans anytime and anywhere and to conduct innovative research to catalyse the African Union’s Agenda 2063.”
The PAVEU shall aspire to provide every qualified candidate within the continent and beyond the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills that prepare them for employment, knowledge generation, innovation and entrepreneurship. It shall strive to ensure that support services are available to distant learners and faculties to assist in providing research-driven and evidence-based quality education that are conveniently accessed.
- Increase access to quality tertiary and continuing education in Africa by reaching large numbers of students and professionals in multiple sites simultaneously and developing relevant and high quality Open Distance and elearning (ODeL) resources;
- Ensure the prospective African student a guaranteed access to the University from anywhere in the world and anytime (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), and countries of their choice;
- Develop infrastructure, human and financial support systems to facilitate the effective use of ODeL in rural and disadvantaged urban areas;
- Enhance the pedagogical and research capacity of African tertiary educational institutions;
- Raise the global standing of the Pan African University as well as build and sustain partnerships with institutions that can support the AU Agenda 2063 mission; and
- Promote development and delivery of responsive, demand-driven education programs.
CONTEXT AND RATIONALE
The proposal to operationalize PAVEU as an Institute of the Pan African University (PAU) was endorsed by the Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology (STC-EST) meeting that took place on 23-25 October 2017 in Cairo Egypt. The proposal was approved by the January 2018 Summit (Executive Council Decision EX.CL/Dec 987 (XXXII) Rev.1. PAVEU is hosted at the PAU Rectorate Headquarters located in Yaoundé Cameroon. The Pan African University, which currently consists of four operational Institutes in four regions of Africa, is an African Union Commission (AUC) initiative launched in December 2011, whose strategic vision is the development of institutions for excellence in key areas of Science, Technology, Innovation, Humanities, Social Sciences and Governance, which would constitute the bedrock of an African pool of world class higher education and research. This would usher in a new generation of African leaders with capacity to optimally harness available human and material resources, imbued with a common vision of a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa.
The African Union aspiration is for a well-educated citizens and skills revolution underpinned by science, technology and innovation for a knowledge society. In this respect, the primary purpose of the PAVEU is to maximize student access quality, relevant and credible programs through the use of a variety of digital technologies, as follows:
- Aspire to provide every qualified candidate within the continent particularly women the opportunity to access tertiary and continuing education in Africa, and earn degrees and certificates that prepares them for employment, knowledge generation, innovation and entrepreneurship;
- Ensure that support services are available to distant learners and faculty to assist in providing research- driven and evidence-based quality education that are conveniently accessed;
- Encourage and optimize the use of emerging, new and adaptive technologies for pedagogy, content delivery, research and management;
- Offer the African Diaspora and the international academic community an innovative continental framework to contribute towards the development of higher education and research in Africa;
- Promote inter-disciplinary and multidisciplinary academic research programs integrated into development policy at continental, regional and national levels;
- Ensure sustained systematic assessment of courses, programs, and services to improve the university’s mission;
- Enhance Africa’s contribution to the global knowledge economy;
- Work to link the Pan African e-Network (another agenda 2063 Priority project) and the Pan African Virtual and E-University initiative.
- Support the development of e-enabled and e-compliant teaching and learning environments
- To enhance the ease of re-skilling and second chance education and training
The Pan African Virtual and E-University shall use modern, adaptive and emerging technologies to make higher education available to students all over Africa and beyond. All course material and assignments will be accessible online. In addition to the core learning objectives, the eLearning platform shall expose students to the emerging technologies on the internet and be able to acquire communication skills that are critical for professionals in the international arena. The technologies shall allow for the following:
Flexibility: students can access learning experiences that are self-paced from anywhere at any time at their convenience. Such flexibility could allow a multi-disciplinary and modular approach to customizing a degree. It will link blended learning opportunities utilizing existing PAU infrastructure;
Supportive: tutors and facilitators providing academic guidance, advice and other aspects of study;
Social: students get together through online conferencing, study networks and course forums;
Self-Paced: students get more time to assimilate course materials and concepts due to the self-paced delivery and reception of the learning material.
The PAVEU project is set within the context of a number of parallel continental programmes managed by the African Union Commission. These include the Pan African University, the process of harmonization of African higher education; the Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework (PAQAF), the implementation of the African Quality Rating Mechanism; the Mwalimu Nyerere Scholarship Scheme, the Continental Education Strategy (2016-2025), and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (2015-2024). These initiatives will directly benefit the PAVEU and contribute to its long term success.