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“Southern Africa’s Collaborative Endeavor: SADC and Botswana Open University Deliberate on Open and Distance Learning for Inclusive Higher Education Access”

AFRICA,Tech News . 

The meeting on January 17, 2024, between the Botswana Open University delegation and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, H.E. Mr. Elias Mpedi Magosi, was a significant step toward fostering collaboration in the education sector. Led by the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kgomotso H. Moahi, the discussions centered on establishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would serve as a framework for cooperation between Botswana Open University and SADC.

The main focus of this collaboration is to promote Open and Distance Learning (ODL), with the goal of enhancing inclusivity and accessibility to higher education across the SADC region. Open and Distance Learning has become increasingly important, particularly in light of the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the need for flexible and remote learning methods to ensure the resilience of education systems.

Notably, the Botswana Open University hosts the SADC Centre for Distance Education (SADC-CDE), established in June 2005. The center serves as a hub for Open and Distance Learning, functioning as a Center of Excellence in Southern Africa. The collaboration between Botswana Open University and SADC reflects a shared commitment to advancing education, especially through flexible and accessible learning modalities.

The discussions during the meeting aimed at formalizing the partnership through the development of a comprehensive MoU, outlining the specific areas of collaboration and the strategies to achieve the shared objectives. The commitment to promoting ODL within the SADC region underscores the dedication of both institutions to making higher education more accessible to a broader population.

Acknowledging the commendable efforts of the Botswana Open University, both parties highlighted the institution's role in enabling individuals to upgrade their skills, ensuring relevance in a rapidly evolving job market. The university's commitment to inclusivity was also praised, particularly its efforts in reaching out to marginalized groups, people with disabilities, and learners situated in remote areas.

The Botswana Open University plays a significant role by hosting the SADC Centre for Distance Education (SADC-CDE), which was established in June 2005. As a hub for Open and Distance Learning, the center serves as a Center of Excellence in Southern Africa. This collaboration underscores the shared commitment to advancing education, with a specific focus on promoting flexible and accessible learning modalities in the Southern African region.

In the meeting, Ms. Duduzile Simelane, the Director of Social and Human Development at the SADC Secretariat, highlighted the vital role of open and distance learning. The discussion emphasized the significance of investing in flexible and remote learning methods, particularly in light of the lessons learned from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has underscored the importance of resilient education systems that can adapt to various circumstances.

The delegation from the Botswana Open University featured prominent figures such as Dr. Mmabaledi K. Seeletso, the Director of the SADC Centre for Distance Education, and Professor Gbolagade Adekanmbi, who serves as the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services) and Dean of the School of Education. Their participation underscores the university's commitment to fostering collaborations with regional organizations like SADC to enhance educational initiatives in Southern Africa.

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