I have watched the videos and download the essays and read them. Upon reading, the 2 essays, and the PPP by Prof. Villet, I have realized that most of the questions posed by Professor Oyewole can find some answers in these essays especially in the essay by Dr. Villet. These answers to revamping AHEIs curricula on teaching and learning to meet the current needs of the learners and those of the communities they thrive in can nevertheless be easily challenged due to the nature of AHEIs objectives set by AUC, which is to create the “Africa we want” by 2063. Following are possible answers to Pro. Oyewole’s questions:
1. What are the demerits of the current approach to teaching and learning in Africa?
To name a few:
– The curricula are outdated and not aligned with the needs of the modern society and workforce. In fact, most AHEIs have dwelled on their reactive curricula created after the independence as a way to promote Pan-Africanism and “africanize” education or de-colonize it. As a result, there is a gap between the skills students acquire at the end of their University education and the skills needed in their communities and the employers.
– Lack of resources is another hindrance. Many universities lack basic resources such textbooks, teaching materials, and technology. I vividly remember during my formative years at the Université du Benin, now Univerité de Lomé, we had one small library which was always crowded, very limited number of books to borrow if any that matched our courses. We relied on our note-takings from our lecturers to study and scavenge different embassies libraries for books that could help us. We did not have access to any computers for any research at all because their was none.
– Classrooms are crowded in AHEIs which mass-produce graduates who are either “unemployed” or “unemployable” to borrow Prof Villet’s for the terms, for the reason mentioned above in my first point pertaining to the curriculum.
– Teacher quality is a serious matter. Most senior professor retire without adequately training younger generation of lecturers to replace them.
2. What new approach is being proposed to teaching and learning in Africa?
The new approach may include the following:
– Integration of technology as part and parcel in the AHEIs curricula to foster teaching and learning.
– This first point can be used to develop project-based learning which emphasizes hands-on experience as Prof. Cuevas illustrated in her video, as well as Prof Villet who reiterates this aspect of learning which affords the learners to “co-create new knowledge/s, rather than simply absorb knowledge given to them by a teacher”(page 7).
– All the while, learners must be given ample opportunities to engage with the communities they thrive in through the AHEIs partnerships. Students will then be exposed to the world outside the classroom, gain practical experience and ready to serve their communities. This in return will help accommodate adults seeking life-long education join the institutions, making education thus more inclusive both socially and economically.
3. What are the benefits of the new approach to teaching and learning?
– One benefit of the new approach to teaching and learning in Africa would be the access to the improved educational resources. Integration of technology and online learning platforms would expand access to educational materials. Prof Villet advocates for ” Transforming university curriculum to respond to local and global challenges” which “also require an intense look
into the structural adjustments universities need to make to support curriculum practices and processes for
transformation of higher education” to meet the “harmonization and the strengthening of the quality of higher education” the AU calls for (page 9).
– Another benefit would be the enhancement of teacher quality. New teaching methodologies and professional development would improve the quality and effectiveness of the professor and thus benefit student learning. In fact, some of the new approach to professor is student-centered and the professor is seen as learner as well for he/she, based on the new pedagogical approach is open to unlearn and relearn to integrate the new methods. Prof. Villet puts it this way: “The main premise of transformative mindset is the idea that “learners” who are obtaining new knowledge/information evaluate their past ideas and understanding, and through critical reflection and discourse shift
their worldviews and perceptions to support their new learning and meaning-making” (page 9).
4. What will it take to re-calibrate African professors and learners for the new approach to teaching and learning in Africa?
– The second point I made in question 3 is valid here. Professional development of the professors and their ability to adapt to the exigencies of the new technology to integrate in teaching while learning at the same time.
– Learning requires professors to play a supporting/facilitation role rather than indoctrinating their students. To that effect, teaching must be student-centered and students mus be encouraged in completing project-based assignment which will give them opportunity to explore and practice problem-solving they will need in their professional lives.
5. How can we further promote life-long learning in Africa?
We need to:
– Intentionally promote the culture of learning within our communities by valuing education, self-improvement and celebrating individuals within the communities for their achievements.
– Support non-formal learning initiatives for this to become a reality. Life-long learners do not have to sit in a formal classroom to get their education. AHEIs, through their engagement with the communities must go to them by organizing workshops, informal meetings to educate them on specific issues relevant to their livelihoods and mainly bring them to the age of technology. Villet addresses this aspect of learning which must be taken into account while AHEIs are designing the new curricula as follows: “The curriculum is organized around significant local and global problems and issues that are collaboratively identified without regard for subject area boundaries, to encourage cross-curricular application of subject discipline knowledge that come to bear on the identified problem. It encourages lifelong learning and the building of learning communities.” (page 10)
6. What roles do digitization have to play in the new approach to teaching and learning in Africa?
– I have tackled this issue in my previous answers and as obvious as it is, the world has embarked on the road of no-return of digitization following an ever-growing and massive usage of new technology African cannot afford to stay out if its HEIs were to improve and be more competitive in this modern world. We have talked about technology integration which can help AHEIs meet the challenges of quality and effective education that is harmonized.
– Digitization will facilitate collaboration between different regional and continental HEIs whereby they share resources for the betterment of their learners. It also helps personalized learning, or other word custom-design courses for specific skills set acquisition that is marketable. Additionally, it provides an interactive learning experience for the learners and facilitates project based assignments and hands-on experience with the ability to problem solve.
7. What is the current approach to teaching and learning in Africa?
Currently, the teaching and learning approach in Africa is teacher-centered for most of the HEIs. The professor comes in, delivers his lecture based on his own research and exits the classroom with minimal, or if not none interactions with the learners who are left to fend for themselves and try to regurgitate what the professor just spilled in the classroom, hoping to reproduce the professor’s exact wordings the day of the tests/exams, pass and accumulate necessary credits for their diploma. The approach is thus examination-centric focused on memorization of lessons learned rather problem-solving and hands-on experiential learning.