Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 57 total)
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    Fatoumata Keita

    Greetings dear colleagues,
    Thanks so much for your thought-provoking comments. As far as Prof Olusola’s question about the demerits of the current approach to teaching and learning in Africa, I think that come from the fact the current approach does not enable learners to acquire what Prof Sanjayan T.S. calls the four C’s of the 21st century, namely: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and critical thinking. Many African countries face multidimensional crises that require transversal competences and skills, and the learners’ ability to collaborate, communicate, think critically and with creativity are necessary to solve some of those crises. Hence, it is not the learners’ competence in one single discipline that will be enough, but their ability to work from an interdisciplinary and transversal approach that will yield the greater benefit. Unfortunately, the current approach does not place an important emphasis on these aspects. Collaboration which is believed to be the future of higher education, be it at the individual level or institutional level, is also the missing link of current higher education system in many parts of the continent. However, in her memoir titled: Unbowed: One Woman’s Story (2006:119), Wangari Maathai writes: “A great river always begins somewhere. Often it starts as a tiny spring bubbling up from a crack in the soil. But for the stream to grow into a river, it must meet other tributaries and join them as it heads for a lake or the sea”. For the African HEIs to grow into a great river, it shall foster collaboration at all levels, between learners and teachers, between policy maker and HE actors, between institutions and between public/private sectors. Only in this way can we build a stronger, inclusive, harmonized and integrated higher education system in Africa.

    Lockias Chitanana

    [Lockias Chitanana] Thank you, colleagues, for your insightful posts.

    I would like to acknowledge Ramon’s perspective that Teaching and Learning, or learning and teaching, does not necessarily follow a linear relationship. However, it might be too radical to completely disregard the connection between the two. Instead, I propose embracing transformative learning and teaching strategies, placing the student at the core of the learning experience.

    Transformative teaching aims to create learning environments that facilitate transformative learning experiences. This involves implementing teaching methods that actively promote critical thinking, open dialogue, and reflective activities. In our roles as professors, we are tasked with establishing learning spaces wherein students feel secure challenging their own assumptions and participating in meaningful discussions with their peers. Crucial to this novel learning approach are elements such as disorienting dilemmas and critical reflection, which play a pivotal role in fostering transformative experiences for students.

    Teaching, whether in formal or nonformal settings, ought to prioritize the learner. Discouraging the outdated concepts of the tabula rasa and the jug and mug approach, where the teacher is perceived as the sole repository of knowledge, is essential. Recognizing that learning transcends the boundaries of the classroom or laboratory, our focus should be on equipping learners with the ability to learn anytime and anywhere.

    In this endeavour, technology, particularly the internet, proves invaluable in fostering communities of learning. The Internet assumes a crucial role in transformative teaching and learning by providing a rich tapestry of resources, promoting collaboration, and furnishing interactive platforms that enhance the educational experience.

    I concur that learning is not solely dependent on a teacher’s presence. This acknowledgment stems from the understanding that individuals possess the capability to acquire knowledge and skills autonomously, without the direct guidance of a formal instructor. This aligns with the principles of self-directed learning, emphasizing that the learning process extends beyond traditional classroom confines.

    However, it’s crucial to note that advocating for learning without a teacher doesn’t dismiss the value of teacher-facilitated learning. Rather, it underscores the evolving roles of educators and emphasizes the necessity to revamp the curriculum, along with the methods of assessment. This perspective prompts a reevaluation of the teacher’s role in fostering an environment where learners can thrive independently while also recognizing the importance of instructors in guiding and shaping educational experiences.

    This is my two cents for now!

    Ramon Torrent

    I’m Ramon Torrent

    Hi all,

    You have provided plenty of food for thought. I do not want to add to it, or try to digest and metabolize all the food you have provided. But it can be useful if I provide two ideas, seemingly contradictory at first, that can help framing your reflection.

    ON THE CRITICISM OF CURRENT APPROACHES, NOT ONLY IN TEACHING PRACTICES BUT ALSO ON THE APPROACH TO THEIR DISCUSSION (THE APPROACH IN MAINSTREAM ACADEMIC AMD CONSULTANCY LITERATURE), I THINK WE MUST BE VERY RADICAL. We must abandon the idea of a necessary correspondence (what I call in one of the HAQAA Policy Briefs that I’ve authored “the biunivocal relationship”) between teaching and learning (in whatever order). You say, Basiru, “Therefore it is apparent that each process – i.e. teaching and learning- is a sine qua non to the other”. Respectfully, I disagree: Learning is something you/we must have certainly done (and continue to do) all your life in order to be a good teacher. But learners do not learn only as a result of a teaching activity; they (we !!!) learn and have learned (much more !!!) by many other ways, and mainly by our individual effort: we have learned, first of all, because we wanted to learn. The only absolutely sine qua non condition for learning is wanting to learn.

    BUT, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF HE REFORM, WE MUST BE VERY WISE AND NEVER INTEND TO FIRE A “SILVER BULLET” THAT WILL SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS AT ONCE. The HE system as it stands has not fallen out of the blue. It serves powerful interests and there are powerful entrenched interests that will fight reform. Therefore, as in many other policy areas, we must
    – value each step, however small, in the right reformist direction;
    – we must build a strategy that brings together and gives sense and good direction to these small steps: and
    – we must build majorities as large as possible to overcome resistance to change.


    Ramon Torrent

    I’ve read your post, Lockias, after having written my last one. Of course I agree with your argument on:

    However, it’s crucial to note that advocating for learning without a teacher doesn’t dismiss the value of teacher-facilitated learning. Rather, it underscores the evolving roles of educators and emphasizes the necessity to revamp the curriculum, along with the methods of assessment.

    Remember, in your direction, that my Policy Brief on the topic points to the need of focus “WHAT TEACHING FOR WHAT LEARNING?”, which could be another eay of summarizing your argument.

    Lockias Chitanana

    [Lockias Chitanana] Let me share what I seem to be getting from Ramon’s contribution here!

    This discussion presents a nuanced perspective on teaching and learning, emphasizing the need for a critical examination of current approaches while being strategic and patient in the reform process. Here are some reflections on the key points raised:

    1. Critique of the Biunivocal Relationship:
    The argument against the “BIUNIVOCAL RELATIONSHIP” between teaching and learning challenges the idea that teaching is an absolute prerequisite for learning. The emphasis on individual effort and the desire to learn as the fundamental conditions for effective learning brings attention to the autonomy and agency of learners. This viewpoint underscores the importance of intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning, acknowledging that learning occurs through various avenues beyond formal teaching.

    2. Pragmatic Approach to Reform:
    The discussion highlights the need for a pragmatic and strategic approach to educational reform. Acknowledging the complexity and entrenched interests in the current higher education system, the call for valuing incremental steps and building coalitions for change reflects a realistic understanding of the challenges involved in reform. This approach recognizes that change in education is a gradual process, requiring careful consideration and collaboration to navigate resistance and obstacles.

    3. Balancing Ideological Battle and Reform Process:
    The suggestion to be radical in the ideological battle while exercising wisdom and patience in the reform process reflects a balanced approach. Advocating for a transformation in educational ideologies and principles is crucial for long-term change. Simultaneously, the recognition that reform may encounter resistance, and the importance of strategic planning and building consensus, emphasizes the pragmatic aspects of the change process.

    4. Steady Progress Forward:
    The overarching message advocates for a steady and persistent movement towards reform. The idea of being radical in challenging existing ideologies and practices aligns with the need for transformative change, while the call for wisdom and patience underscores the importance of sustainability and careful navigation of obstacles in the reform journey.

    In conclusion, I note that the post by Ramon encourages a thoughtful and multifaceted approach to education reform, acknowledging the complexities involved. It combines a critical examination of the current state of teaching and learning with a pragmatic understanding of the challenges inherent in the reform process. This dual perspective provides a comprehensive framework for addressing issues in higher education and working towards positive and sustainable changes.


    Hi Prof,
    I concur with the content of the brief regarding the advocated learning approach with a focus on self-directed learning. Through this process, learners take charge of their learning from the planning stage through development towards change. This includes carrying out tasks and activities autonomously. The role of the university lecturer becomes more of a facilitator in motivating learners towards self-directed learning. In an era where the half-life of knowledge is very short, individuals are expected to operate within a lifelong learning paradigm. Since only some learning will take place within formal settings, self-directed learning will fill the Knowledge and skills gaps. Africans will have to make the best use of open educational resources (OERs) and other free resources for self-directed learning.

    Wail Benjelloun

    Wail Benjelloun

    To prof Villet, you will agree that the innovation battle is almost lost by the time our students get to university and have acquired a host of maladaptive “educational” behaviors, when educators around the world (cf, Finland, Singapore,…) tell us that innovation develops fastest when nurtured at a very early age. STEM adapted for three- and four-year-olds is making major headways in some regions of North America. This makes the job all the more difficult for us in Africa as we attempt to instill the reflex in students most comfortable with rote memorization. But we must identify strategies to challenge our students to innovate and create.

    Finally, the legal clinics and capstone are indeed excellent strategies in developing the skills and aptitudes necessary to train productive citizens contributing to the economic development of their nation and region, and continent. We have to innovate to adapt such strategies in order to serve the increasingly larger numbers of students that many African universities receive every year, perhaps through digitalization and AI. I say all this not out of pessimism, but so that we realistically assess the magnitude of the task before us, not only in re-formatting our students, faculty and programs, but also in convincing decision makers to devote the necessary resources. The Africa we want requires these actions.


    Comment from Assodah.Tirvassen.
    Hi prof Oyewole,
    In response to your question on how to re-calibrate African professors for the new approach.
    For the transformation approach to learning to take place, learners have to be motivated by their professors or lecturers in HE. Since the transformative approach is informed by theories of adult education (Mezirov:1991&1995), university professors have to be trained regarding the theories and application of andragogical approaches.

    Fatoumata Keita

    In response to the question “How can we further promote life-long learning in Africa?”, I think that the CESA can give us some clues. The Continental Education Strategy for Africa recommends a paradigm shift as far as curriculum is concerned. Another way is to encourage self-learning and self-training. Most of the skills required in this 21st century are offered outside the classrooms. There is a wide range of self-placed courses, both synchronous and asynchronous, that learners can access sometime freely on digital platforms to empower themselves and get new skills. So promoting life long learning requires free MOOC courses and platforms for learners to acquire new skills, up-skill themselves and become more confident in this new world beset with complex issues that require transversal skills.
    Finally, we can foster life long learning by improving connectivity in the continent. Many universities and schools in many African countries have lot of challenges regarding connectivity.


    Reply from Assodah Tirvassen
    Yes Fatoumaita. MOOC courses are useful for lifelong learning. We learnt a lot through our course on Regional and continental integration. We learnt a lot through the forum discussions. This is why I believe that through the creation of online communities of practice/learners, lifelong learning could be promoted. At present, we are benefitting a lot through this online forum discussion. We are not learning through the formal structures of a programme of study but through discussion within an online community. Africans could benefit a lot through the creation of such online communities which will encourage collaborative learning and strengthen lifelong learning.

    Georges Mulumbwa

    First of all, I congratulate and generally agree with the views of colleagues participants (Basiru, Assodah, Adewale, Michael Mwareri, bandele) answaring to AAU Secretary General Prof. Olusola’s Questions.
    But much more, I would like to focus on Prof Villet’s presentation, which I really appreciated since it seemed very rich and almost complete on this theme, as it gives a good photograph, an inventory of practices in African HEILs to date. However, I would like to point out two small things:
    -When she writes that “The Africa We Want, needs to focus on what students are learning and can do”
    I would like her to write instead (and this is what she implied fortunately a little further down), that the focus should be rather on the real needs of the environment namely local communities, industries or simply State priorities.
    I would also like to suggest that from the perspective of innovation, African HEIs which are facing serious financing problems start by taking inventory and drawing up a list of priorities on the various works already produced (in previous years) by the students and researcher-teachers, so that we gradually begin to scale up, allowing this research to be known and transferred technologically on a large scale. Furthermore, she encourages collaboration between HEls and industry, a step which is very important in the approach to innovation. I would have liked her to offer some tips to get there. Because, in most African universities that I know, many are eager for this cooperation but very few manage to implement it. This suggests that there are obstacles which discourage industries, most likely the absence of a clear win-win MoU, including between the university and the student, the absence of a clear approach for patenting of intellectual property, etc. In short, it would be better to improve the entire innovation ecosystem in our HEls.
    Georges Mulumbwa
    From DRC


    Michael Mwareri Wangai, Nairobi, Kenya

    Listening the short videos, Reading the attachments and your comments has left me reflecting deeply on the different education systems in African Countries whose curricula (Basic Education – where HEIs get their students) keep on changing in the name of Education reforms. Then i ask myself, why are there no such whole sale education/curricula reforms in mature education systems in the North? And that now brings Prof Ramon’s concerns (allow me to paraphrase; Teaching for what? and what learning? – education for what?)
    In Kenya and indeed East Africa, education systems have been overhauled thrice with countless curriculum changes (in the basic education). I find such changes driven by politics rather than an empirical research informed reasons.
    I hope i did not bring subjective feelings to the debated on THE NEED TO REVISE THE MAINSTREAM APPROACH TO “TEACHING-AND-LEARNING” OR “LEARNING-AND-TEACHING”

    I have no prescriptions for my assertions this time round


    Edrinnie Kayambazinthu
    I have listened to the presentations and read the materials by our facilitators. They make a lot of sense and provide directions on teaching and learning in Higher Education Institutions(HEIs). I may not be in a position to agree or disagree with some of the issues raised, but I have appreciated Prof Villet’s unpacking of the learner-centred approach and the strategies to be used in teaching. Indeed, most of us lecturers in HEIs need refresher courses on innovations in teaching, learning and assessment. Some of the strategies, as outlined by Artagarcia Cuevas, are critical for one to use. Surely as HEIs, we can employ some of these more practical approaches to teaching. They bring out the relevant employability skills and bridge the gap between our institutions and the labour market.

    Ramon, you make a compelling argument regarding modules as stand-alone entities. Yet, in some universities like mine, there is more compartmentalization and specificity in terms of discipline and faculty-specific courses that students enrolled in that program can take. Even if a student is interested in a course offered by a different faculty, there are restrictions which bar students from crossing into other faculties. However, we need more information on how to package modules into the curricula to minimise timetable clashes and manageability given time limitations. An argument often made by those who restrict students from other faculties.

    The idea of general and specific courses, I cannot agree more. My general degree prepared me to broaden my thinking and be more adaptable at work than the current trend of specialised degrees, which train students in specific programs.


    Edrinnie Kayambazinthu
    Collaboration on the development of virtual modules is an excellent idea. The South-North collaboration and even Regional collaboration would easily facilitate this. Some of our African universities need to work on connectivity for meaningful learning and engagement.


    Edrinnie Kayambazithu
    Are there colleagues on this forum whose universities combine the general and specific program offerings? How do you deal with timetabling issues (both for learning and exams?)

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 57 total)
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