Distance Learning Obstacles in Africa
Below is a model introduction to a research paper on distance learning obstacles in Africa.
Unlike the United States education system, which has a sophisticated distance learning structure in place, Africa continues to struggle with this electronic advancement. In most of the country, limited opportunities for distance learning stymie both intra-country distance learning, as well as international opportunities, including those for Western nations, to learn more about Africa, and vice versa.
Additionally, there are relatively few opportunities for African students to participate in distance learning with American colleges and universities. The problem lies in the availability of the technology. These include:
- Inconsistent or non-existant internet access
- Computer access or lack of computer ownership
- Lack of Government support/funding for technology
- Training in technological equipment needed for advanced distant learning solutions
- Few African students have access to video conferencing equipment
This is a double-edged sword. American students and others eager to learn more about African culture, politics, and other aspects of life on that continent found there was a paucity of information available. However, efforts have been under way since 1999 to change that circumstance. In Connecticut, for example, Central Connecticut State University and Manchester Community-Technical College began exploring ways to set up video conferencing facilities for Ghanian students, who might otherwise have to wait for up to six years for a college opening. Such a system also would be a boon to those students, for most cannot afford to come to the United States for their education.
Distance Learning Obstacles and Pearl Robinson
Also helping to bridge the learning gap through distance education is a program developed by Dr. Pearl Robinson of Tufts University, which she calls “metacourse.” Her program involves collaboration between Tufts and two African universities – one in Uganda and one in Tanzania. Students in Africa who do not own computers or have no video conferencing capability at home can utilize the program at their universities to learn.
The University of Massachusetts has been transmitting distance learning courses to African Virtual University since 1996. They include engineering, computer science, and a broader selection is planned for the coming years.