Promoting Digital Education in African Universities

Building the next generation of African ICT Specialists through the ACE Impact Project

The rise of Digital Education

Digital education has assumed growing importance over the past several years, as higher education institutions, and a growing number of institutions of all sizes are now adopting digital education programs. Disruption to the academic calendars, influenced by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompted the need to strengthen digital education by building pedagogical and technological capacities in quality online education. Report from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), 2021 confirms that during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, unlike other parts of the world, Sub-Saharan Africa struggled in terms of digital tools and personnel to meet the demand in supporting online teaching and learning, especially during the school and university closures. Efforts are being made by various African governments as well as development partners to improve digital education in African universities.

Centres and their achievements

Since its inception in 2014, the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project has been committed to projecting STEM Education and digital development in African universities. The aim is to bridge the knowledge gap in digital development, train students and professionals to meet the growing demands in the continent’s digital market, in digital education and beyond; in health, finance, agriculture and other sectors. There are eight centres of excellence dedicated to promoting digital development in the sub region:

These centres are the Africa Center of Excellence for Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science and Applications (CEA-SMIA- Benin); Africa Centre of Excellence for Teaching / Learning Math and Science for Sub-Saharan Africa (CEA MS4SSA -Niger); OAU ICT-Driven Knowledge Park (OAU-OAK- Nigeria); Africa Center of Excellence for Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL- Nigeria); Africa Center of Excellence for Applied Informatics and Communication (CAPiC- Nigeria); Africa Centre of Excellence on New Pedagogies in Engineering Education (ACENPEE – Nigeria); Africa Centre of Excellence for Innovative and Transformative STEM Education (ACEITSE – Nigeria); Center of Excellence in Mathematics and ICT (CEA MITIC – Senegal).

Collectively, these centres have made immense impact in the training the next generation of ICT specialists and professionals that can support digital infrastructure and the needed ecosystem to further improve adoption of digital technologies in the region. Over 1273 MSc students and 453 PhD students have been enrolled under these centres. Also, 1064 professionals have enhanced their knowledge and skills through Short Course Programmes offered by the centres.

Through the ACE Impact project, centres are provided with the needed digital tools and infrastructure to facilitate quality teaching and learning. These include state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms, libraries, among other key infrastructure.