atingi (www.atingi.org), the digital learning platform of The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has exceeded expectations in its first year.
Within twelve months, atingi has reached almost a million people in Africa and already enabled 100,000 of them to access vocational education and self-development courses for free.
atingi means “to achieve” in Esperanto, and the platform strives to improve the employability of young people through modern digital learning opportunities. With a large network of strategic cooperation partners – from politics and business to science and civil society – educational content which meets the needs of African audiences is made available, free of charge, via the atingi platform.
Although atingi is developed for people in all German Development Cooperation partner countries, the current focus is specifically on facilitating African economic growth. BMZ has chosen four pilot countries for a more intensive engagement, recognizing that each is in a very different stage of digital transformation – and is therefore suited as a test case to identify opportunities for pan-African scaling.
The close cooperation with the pilot countries Togo, Niger, Rwanda and Benin, enables atingi’s learning proposition to be dynamically evaluated, adapted and targeted to local needs.
Africa is recognized as a potential global workforce hub for the rest of the world because of its high youth population. In fact, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than a quarter of the world’s population of under 25s, and 15% of the world’s working population. To date, the lack of access to high quality education for its working-age citizens has been a critical inhibitor of African countries ability to compete effectively in the international labour market. There is an urgent need, therefore, for the continent to expand its pool of highly-skilled employees through the development of relevant, vocational skill sets.
This is where the role of digital transformation becomes significant. Digital technologies open up new avenues for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation and access to services that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. In this context, online learning and orientation opportunities are essential to enabling people in Africa to keep pace with the digital transformation beyond their borders. This not only ensures they are well qualified for the jobs of the future, it can also ensure a more integrated knowledge economy that moves Africa, and its citizens, closer to realizing their economic and personal potential.
Furthermore, it can often be challenging for local educational institutions to reach people in rural and sparsely populated areas in Africa’s emerging markets. The reality is that there is a high demand for learning opportunities and vocational skills, but there are often geographic and infrastructure barriers, which can be addressed through online learning offers. atingi enables users to access high-quality, locally-relevant, digital learning materials anytime and anywhere. Recognizing the barrier of internet connectivity, atingi also offers low-tech and offline solutions.
The atingi development cooperation framework builds on existing local and global partnerships. Alongside the four pilot countries, a growing network of strategic cooperation partners has emerged for the development and distribution of the learning content. Renowned international partners such as Smart Africa (an alliance of 30 African digital ministries), UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Siemens Foundation are the cornerstones of the successful scaling of atingi. And that is precisely the long-term goal of the project: to scale the platform in all partner countries of the German Development Cooperation globally.
atingi project leader Jan-Gerrit Groeneveld is encouraged by the development and first stage results of the atingi initiative. He notes, “eLearning is ideal for the digital transfer of knowledge and improvement of the living conditions for many people in African countries. The Corona pandemic once again incontravertibly demonstrated to us how important it is to digitalise education, thereby facilitating access for all“.
He added that atingi has succeeded in enabling people on the ground to receive education and training via the latest technology; both ensuring people access skills development easily and that digital transformation in Africa is advanced substantially too. “Early user acceptance of the learning platform has exceeded initial expectations, which strengthens our belief that investing in digital education infrastructure on the African continent is the right way for us to contribute to unlocking the enormous local economic potential.”
Young people, women and people in rural regions are the target beneficiaries of the atingi platform. The courses offered cover a wide range of topics, such as vocational orientation, health, entrepreneurship and agriculture – all of which are aimed at increasing employability and skills. These modules are expanded and developed in a targeted manner with the help of local, strategic cooperation partners. Successful learners who complete the courses receive free digital certificates to provide evidence of the skills acquired that can be added to their CVs. In addition to English and French, some learning content is now also available in other languages, such as Spanish, Arabic and some local African languages.
Women Pivotal To Socio-economic Development And Bridging Digital Divide- Danbatta
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has emphasized the important role played by women in the country’s socio-economic and political space while underscoring the need to empower them in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an enabler for social change.
Danbatta stated this while delivering a goodwill message at a webinar organised by Zinari Communications Limited with the theme: “Mainstreaming Rural Women Enterprise Development into Digital Economy Initiative: The Opportunities, Strategies and Constraints,” which held on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.
According to Danbatta, who was represented by the Head, Online Media and Special Publication, NCC, Grace Ojougboh, there is no doubt that women have been historically central to socio-economic and political development of any nation and stressed the need for nations to focus more on how ICT can be leveraged for increased empowerment for women.
He said: “There has been a general concern that unless the gender divide between men and women is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may worsen existing inequalities between women and men which could create new forms of inequality.
“However, if the gender dimensions of ICT in terms of access and use, capacity-building opportunities, employment and potential for empowerment are explicitly identified and addressed, ICT can be a powerful catalyst for political, economic and social empowerment of women, and the promotion of gender equality.”
He advocated increased collaboration between public and private-sector stakeholders toward advancing gender equality and women empowerment, notably by encouraging young women and girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The EVC said the Commission will continue to play a front-seat role in driving the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy document (NDEPS), 2020-2030; the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and similar policies aimed at increased connectivity to all the citizens to bridge gender digital disparity.
Danbatta said the Commission constantly provides the necessary infrastructure that will guarantee ubiquitous access to telecoms services through the implementation of these policies while listing other initiatives undertaken by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), all aimed at boosting connectivity and provision of ICT tools among citizens, regardless of gender, across the length and breadth of Nigeria. He listed the initiatives to include the Community Resource centers (CRS), School Knowledge Centers (SKC), E-accessibility projects, among others.
“There is no doubt that these efforts will facilitate development of a vibrant digital ecosystem where rural women can play very important roles in our socio-economic and political space,” he added.
Mastercard Partners UNICAF to offer Cardholders 75% Scholarships for Internationally Recognized Degrees
Unicaf, the leading online and on-campus learning platform, has entered into a two- year partnership with Mastercard to offer its premium cardholders 75% scholarships for online and on-campus studies at Unicaf’s partner universities.
Starting the first quarter of 2021, Mastercard Gold, Platinum, World and World Elite cardholders across 12 countries in Africa (Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Rwanda), will be able to select from a wide range of high-quality degree programs offered by Unicaf’s partners and only pay 25% of the total fees in flexible manageable monthly instalments over the period of the program.
A recent Mastercard study on consumer spending has revealed that people have been changing the way they learn new skills by transitioning to online studying as they adapt to the ‘next normal’. 50% of respondents in Nigeria, 48% in Ghana and 47% in Kenya have enrolled at an online university since the pandemic began.
“We are committed to offering Mastercard customers the opportunity to earn internationally recognized Bachelor, Master’s or Doctoral degrees at a fraction of the cost through the Unicaf-Mastercard scholarship” said Dr. Nicos Nicolaou, CEO, Unicaf. “This partnership will provide a degree earning opportunity to Mastercard customers and we are incredibly proud to have this partnership with an organization like Mastercard.”
“We are extremely excited to partner with Unicaf to offer our premium cardholders’ access to internationally recognized degrees at discount. As consumers in our markets embrace online learning, this is how we show dedication to our premium cardholders by offering value through lifestyle benefits and rewards that are perfectly matched to their new routines” said Ebehijie Momoh, Country Manager, West Africa, Mastercard.
Unicaf’s comprehensive state-of-the-art digital ecosystem is seamlessly integrated with technology and services which provide the digital infrastructure that students need to study and complete their courses online. Students can interact with internationally trained tutors and fellow virtual classmates from 156 countries, offering Mastercard cardholders an international perspective and valuable insights into European, Asian and American professional practices. Together with its university partners, Unicaf has positively transformed the lives of more than 30,000 students worldwide.
AIT Emerges Ghana’s Best Tech Varsity at 2020 UMB Awards
Accra Institute of Technology (AIT) [www.ait.edu.gh], consistently ranked the top private University in Ghana and one of leading educational institutions in West Africa, has been announced the winner of the three most prestigious awards at the just-ended 2020 UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards in Accra.
The AIT was awarded: The Most Outstanding Institution in COVID-19 Times Award; The Best Technology University Award and; The Best Educator of The Year Award to the President of AIT.
As one of the ECOWAS sub-region’s top education centres, AIT is home to thousands of Nigerians and other West African students. Accra Institute of Technology has won the Best Technology University for the fourth year running.
This enviable position was put to test when COVID-19 set in with the university coming out with excellence in demonstrating how to deploy technologies and systems to ensure uninterrupted academic activity in an educational institution even in the face of a global pandemic.
AIT since its inception in 2009 has extensively been deploying cutting-edge educational delivery technologies and systems to support teaching and learning in all its undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
“As the only university in Ghana operating both campus-based and Open University systems, AIT is one of the few universities in the sub-region to easily and seamlessly roll-over all its academic program delivery and operations online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Therefore, campus-based face-to-face teaching and learning had zero impact on the operations of the university. This success among many others is what accounted for the award for the Most Outstanding Institution in Covid-19 times,” said the Registrar and Chief of Administration of AIT, Mr. Dominic Osei-Boakye while receiving the awards, on behalf of the university.
He added: “The AIT success story cannot be told without mentioning the creativity, strong leadership, and direction from their able President, Prof. Clement Dzidonu. The award-winning Professor has, through AIT transformed educational delivery in the country using Technology. It is little wonder then that he deservedly won the Best Educator of The Year Award.
Mr. Osei Boakye expressed appreciation to the organizers for recognizing AIT’s achievements as a leading technological university providing quality tertiary education in Ghana. The Award is instituted and awarded by the Ghana Tertiary Awards.
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