Nigerian Ministers of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, and that of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali AIbrahim Pantami, have expressed appreciation in the level of supports of the World Bank in digitalising Nigerian universities.
They spoke in Abuja during a 2-day Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) Impact Regional Conference, which aimed to enhance African universities’ digitalisation capacity.
The conference, with the theme: “Sustainable Integration of Digital Education in the Post Covid-19 era,” was held between 12 – 13 May, 2022 in Abuja with the aim of strengthening the education stakeholders’ understanding and participation in the digital education landscape.
The National Open University of Nigeria, Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (NOUN-ACETEL) in collaboration with the National Universities Commission (NUC), Association of African Universities (AAU), the West African Digital Education Network (ADEN), and the EPFL Switzerland were the organisers of the conference.
Speaking at the conference, the Hon. Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said the World Bank had, in the last one decade, made it possible for Nigeria to establish and improve universities and encourage institutions to incorporate digitalization in their learning system.
The minister highlighted the effect of COVID-19 on academic institutions, thus the need for development of digitalization in higher education sector in Nigeria and other African countries.
“This conference will remind and assist universities on the best way to engage themselves in research and development,” he added.
Adamu further lauded the World Bank for challenging the universities in Nigeria and West Africa to improve in curriculum development and the involvement of both gender in digitalization.
His counterpart in the Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, in his address, commended the National Open University of Nigeria’s Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (NOUN–ACETEL) and its partners for bringing together experts for capacity building and encouraging digitalization in West Africa.
According to Pantami, the conference will create group of intellectual experts that will train institutions to develop digital education in Africa.
“We are sure that the World Bank will continue to partner with Nigeria for higher level of digitalisation,’’ Pantami said.
The NOUN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Femi Peters, in his welcome address, emphasised on the impact of COVID-19 that changed the narratives in the education landscape.
Represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Technology, Innovation and Research (DVC-TIR), Prof. Monioluwa Olaniyi, he said the conference sought to deepen the education stakeholders’ understanding and participation in the digital education network.
“Digital education has come to stay, but how we manage its delivery at this critical period will determine its successful integration,’’ he said.
He also commended the stakeholders, partners and funding organisations for their unwavering supports to ACETEL.
The Head of International Affairs, EPFL Switzerland, Dr. Oliver Kuttel, in his keynote address, emphasised on the impact of academic training and research on the digital society.
Kuttel also revealed that their goal is to support excellence in education, research and innovation across Africa with a special focus on digitalization.
He intimated the participants on the various achievements of the organisation since inception and revealed the 12 digital centres have been created in Africa with so many beneficiaries.
“We are glad to be part of this great move of digitalisation in Africa,’’ he said.
Participants for the conference were drawn from across African countries to develop digital education in West Africa.
The conference also focused on exploring the contribution of centres at the national and regional levels, acquaint participants with pedagogical aspects such as course design, pooling of resources, repositories of Open Education Resources (OER) and to familiarise participants with the technical aspects (connectivity issues, access devices and LMS) with digitalization of education.