Higher Education – University Funding – Course Delivery Threats

Featured

Presently we see results of neo-liberal policies in education, including higher education and universities having budgets cut, with research, course content and study choices manipulated through favouring STEM over liberal arts of humanities.

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether focused upon climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes.

 

Excerpts from Inside Story Australia:

 

The four-and-a-half-decade higher education squeeze

 

Rodney Tiffen 17 JUNE 2020

 

Calls for universities to reduce their reliance on international students ignore the incentives created by successive governments

 

‘It’s a long time — forty-five years in fact — since government funding of tertiary education peaked in Australia at 1.5 per cent of GDP. These days, the government contributes 0.8 per cent, or just over half that proportion. Back in 1975, around 277,000 students were enrolled in higher education; by 2016, the number had increased fivefold to 1.46 million.

 

Those figures capture the essential story of Australian universities over the past forty-five years: massive growth combined with declining public investment.

 

The suddenness of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit Australian universities very hard, but the acuteness of their problems has been greatly exacerbated by trends that have been building for decades. The federal government has offered much less support to universities than to other deeply affected parts of the economy, and many conservative commentators have used this as yet another occasion to criticise the sector.

 

Backbench Liberal senator James Paterson (graduate of the Koch affiliated IPA), for instance, says that “universities have not done themselves many favours in recent years,” as if reacting to the diminishing level of public support, especially from his own party, has not been a central driver of the strategies for survival universities have had to adopt.

 

Over the period 1989 to 2017, domestic student enrolments more than doubled, according to former Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, yet the federal government’s contribution to operating costs rose only by a third. Between 1995 and 2005, when OECD governments increased their contributions to tertiary education by an average of 49.4 per cent after inflation, the Howard government provided no real increase at all.

 

As Glyn Davis wrote before the pandemic, “By withdrawing public funding, government has deeded Australia a university system that relies heavily on the families of Asia. If our neighbours tire of cross-subsidising Australian students, the number of local places would shrink rapidly.”

 

The pandemic has thrown university budgets into chaos. No other sector so badly affected by the coronavirus has been treated with so little sympathy, let alone tangible support. It seems the government’s cultural antipathy to universities overrides all else…..

 

There has been an ever present battle over universities and education, not just in Australia on funding, nor recently but in the past e.g. Milton Friedman in 1955 essay “The role of government in education” for the minds and wiring of students.  

 

In some places it is normal for fringe right wing parties new to a governing coalition to request seemingly unrelated portfolios of defence, home affairs, and education…..  Control of the latter gives control over curriculum content and the hidden curriculum; Jane Mayer describes (in ‘Dark Money’, as does MacLean ‘Democracy in Chains) the machinations going on in US (and further) by radical right libertarian donors to not just change what people think, but how they think… (or not).

 

Over generations there has been a move to more liberal student versus teacher and authority centred learning, both overtly and via the hidden curriculum.

 

Hence the curriculum is based on freedom, discovery, experience and creativity, as opposed to engaging with a pre-existing body of knowledge to which the teacher is an authoritative and wise guide.

 

(Liberals, Libertarians and Educational Theory – Lindsay Paterson, 2008)

 

MacLean (like Mayer) has also upset the libertarians:

 

Stealth Attack on Liberal Scholar? Historian alleges coordinated criticism of her latest book, which is critical of radical right, from many who have received Koch funding.

 

Collusion, alternative facts, shadowy billionaires: the words sound ripped from the political headlines, but they also describe the controversy surrounding Duke University historian Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking)….

 

…..Some nevertheless say they worry that swarm-style attacks on progressive scholars’ works — especially in an era of online harassment of professors and plummeting public trust in academe — could become a new normal. MacLean, they say, is the victim of just such an effort.

 

But taking advantage of student centred or liberal approaches can go both ways.  Such antipathy towards the humanities and scholarship does not preclude the likes of Kochs promoting their own ideology through funding academic schools’ programs or research, think tanks and lobbying MPs to promote their ideology e.g. George Mason University, many GOP politicians and think tanks (globally) affiliated through their Atlas Network, e.g. IPA Institute of Public Affairs in Australia promotes climate change denialism. (from Crikey Australia).

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes, into the future…..

 

For more blogs and articles about Ageing democracy, Australian politics, career guidance, climate change, conservative, Covid-19, critical thinking, curriculum, demography, economics, environment, fossil fuel pollutiongovernment budgets, higher education teaching, instructional design, international education, international student, learning theory, nativism, pedagogy, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy, soft skills, student centred, VET vocational education and training, work skills and younger generations.

History of Globalisation and 21st Century

Featured

Globalisation has been more apparent in public, political and media narratives whether for economic or national reasons, mostly negative.  However, globalisation is a fact of life and can be positive for individuals, communities, sole traders, small and medium enterprises.

 

In fact, those promoting negatives of globalisation in favour of nativist policies, along with anti-immigration sentiment and antipathy towards educated elites, often have a need to manipulate ageing electorates.  This was seen with Brexit and Trump with the promotion of antipathy towards the EU European Union and multilateral trade agreements or trade blocs; giving advantage to existing global corporates avoiding regulation, taxation, competition and other constraints.

 

From The Mandarin Australia article excerpts from Peter Vanham is head of communications, Chair’s Office, World Economic Forum.

 

A brief history of globalisation

 

When Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2018 announced it had chosen the ancient city of Xi’an as the site for its new regional headquarters, the symbolic value wasn’t lost on the company: it had brought globalisation to its ancient birthplace, the start of the old Silk Road. It named its new offices aptly: “Silk Road Headquarters”. The city where globalisation had started more than 2,000 years ago would also have a stake in globalisation’s future.

 

Alibaba shouldn’t be alone in looking back. As we are entering a new, digital-driven era of globalisation — we call it “Globalisation 4.0” — it is worthwhile that we do the same. When did globalisation start? What were its major phases? And where is it headed tomorrow?

 

Silk roads (1st century BC-5th century AD, and 13th-14th centuries AD)

 

People have been trading goods for almost as long as they’ve been around. But as of the 1st century BC, a remarkable phenomenon occurred. For the first time in history, luxury products from China started to appear on the other edge of the Eurasian continent — in Rome. They got there after being hauled for thousands of miles along the Silk Road. Trade had stopped being a local or regional affair and started to become global.

 

Spice routes (7th-15th centuries)

 

The next chapter in trade happened thanks to Islamic merchants. As the new religion spread in all directions from its Arabian heartland in the 7th century, so did trade. The founder of Islam, the prophet Mohammed, was famously a merchant, as was his wife Khadija. Trade was thus in the DNA of the new religion and its followers, and that showed. By the early 9th century, Muslim traders already dominated Mediterranean and Indian Ocean trade; afterwards, they could be found as far east as Indonesia, which over time became a Muslim-majority country, and as far west as Moorish Spain.

 

Age of Discovery (15th-18th centuries)

 

Truly global trade kicked off in the Age of Discovery. It was in this era, from the end of the 15th century onwards, that European explorers connected East and West — and accidentally discovered the Americas. Aided by the discoveries of the so-called “Scientific Revolution” in the fields of astronomy, mechanics, physics and shipping, the Portuguese, Spanish and later the Dutch and the English first “discovered”, then subjugated, and finally integrated new lands in their economies.

 

First wave of globalisation (19th century-1914)

 

This started to change with the first wave of globalisation, which roughly occurred over the century ending in 1914. By the end of the 18th century, Great Britain had started to dominate the world both geographically, through the establishment of the British Empire, and technologically, with innovations like the steam engine, the industrial weaving machine and more. It was the era of the First Industrial Revolution.

 

The world wars

 

It was a situation that was bound to end in a major crisis, and it did. In 1914, the outbreak of World War I brought an end to just about everything the burgeoning high society of the West had gotten so used to, including globalisation. The ravage was complete. Millions of soldiers died in battle, millions of civilians died as collateral damage, war replaced trade, destruction replaced construction, and countries closed their borders yet again.

 

Second and third wave of globalisation

 

The story of globalisation, however, was not over. The end of the World War II marked a new beginning for the global economy. Under the leadership of a new hegemon, the United States of America, and aided by the technologies of the Second Industrial Revolution, like the car and the plane, global trade started to rise once again. At first, this happened in two separate tracks, as the Iron Curtain divided the world into two spheres of influence. But as of 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell, globalisation became a truly global phenomenon.

 

Globalisation 4.0

 

That brings us to today, when a new wave of globalisation is once again upon us. In a world increasingly dominated by two global powers, the US and China, the new frontier of globalisation is the cyber world. The digital economy, in its infancy during the third wave of globalisation, is now becoming a force to reckon with through e-commerce, digital services, 3D printing. It is further enabled by artificial intelligence, but threatened by cross-border hacking and cyberattacks.

 

Technological progress, like globalisation, is something you can’t run away from, it seems. But it is ever changing. So how will Globalisation 4.0 evolve? We will have to answer that question in the coming years….

 

From The Lowy Institute:

 

Globalisation Is Still Not A Bad Thing

 

Originally published in the Australian Financial Review by Natasha Kassam

 

COVID-19 signals the end of peak globalisation. Borders have hardened. Tourism has withered. Medical supplies have been blocked at ports. Citizens have been prioritised while foreigners were sent home.

 

Globalisation has been much maligned in recent years – already struck by the financial crisis and the US-China trade war. Growing hostility towards global institutions and trade competition has characterised politics of several countries. And with concern about so-called globalism came attacks on the so-called globalists: “The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots,” said President Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly last year.

 

Australians, by contrast, have remained largely immune to these trends. New Lowy Institute polling finds seven in 10 Australians say globalisation is mostly good for our country, unchanged from 2019. While the United States has succumbed to protectionism and negativity towards migrants, Australians have remained supportive of free trade. Anti-migration sentiment has always lurked in Australia, but years of polling show that most Australians agree that immigration makes our country stronger and wealthier and contributes to our national character.

 

Ongoing struggles in Australia’s relationship with China, our largest trading partner, could fuel further distrust of globalisation. Disputes over beef and barley exports could just be the beginning. Most Australians already say we are too economically dependent on China, and the recent ambiguous threats of economic coercion against Australian exports will only deepen that concern.

 

Globalisation may have been dealt a grave blow by this virus, and Australia can’t save it alone. As a trading nation, that only succeeds by embracing globalisation – even the devastation of COVID-19 hasn’t yet shaken our fundamentals. It may well do so, deep into a global economic slowdown. But to date, Australians have leaned into their national character, and continued to show resilience in the face of populism and protectionism.

 

For more blogs and articles about the Asian Century, Australian politics, business strategy, economics, EU European Union, global trade, populist politics and white nationalism click through.

 

Trump’s White House Immigration Policies and White Nationalist John Tanton

Featured

The aggressive anti-immigration sentiment and policies that are promoted by governments in the US, UK and Australia are not new and have been in the making for generations, John Tanton described as the ‘most influential unknown man in America’ appears central in modern day manifestations. A long game in the same eco system as radical right libertarians, evangelical conservative Christians, eco-fascists, eugenicists, autarkist proponents, climate science denialism and white nationalists, weaponised by deep pocketed philanthropists and ideologues, many of the same highlighted in research by Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’ and Nancy MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’.

 

The fulcrum of these seemingly unrelated entities, donors and operators revolves round the likes of John Tanton, James Buchanan, Paul Ehrlich, Paul Weyrich, Rockefeller Bros. Foundation (more in the past? and related fossil fuel players in addition to ExxonMobil), Colcom (Mellon Scaife), Kochs, then organisations they spawned such as ZPG Zero Population Growth, Club of Rome (‘Limits to Growth’), Heritage Foundation, Cato, Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, ‘bill mill’ ALEC, FAIR, CIS Center for Immigration Studies, The Social Contract Press, and elsewhere including university academia. In Australia this includes Sustainable (Population) Australia, former head of Monash University based CUPR, demographer Dr. Bob Birrell (contributed to Tanton’s Social Contract Press), IPA Institute of Public Affairs (in Koch’s Atlas Network) and in the UK IEA Institute of Economic Affairs (Atlas Network), Population Matters UK ( Pa patronaul Ehrlich) and Migration Watch UK (linked to Tanton’s CIS).

From SPLC:

HATEWATCH – John Tanton’s Legacy – July 18, 2019

Swathi Shanmugasundaram
John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement, has left behind a legacy that spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations, driven an anti-immigrant agenda for four decades, and found friends in the White House.

 

Tanton created groups that billed themselves as fact-based think tanks and lobbyists. Instead, those groups spread propaganda targeting immigrants that has become central to President Trump’s immigration policy.

 

Tanton, 85, died Tuesday in Petoskey, Michigan. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an SPLC-designated hate group that Tanton launched in 1979, announced his death in a press release.

 

Tanton’s anti-immigrant influence goes far beyond FAIR. He founded or funded 13 anti-immigrant organizations, including three of the most influential anti-immigrant groups in the United States – FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA – known as the “Big Three.”

 

These groups spoke at congressional briefings and provided media interviews with mainstream outlets such as the Associated Press and The New York Times, all the while couching their racism in more palatable terms.

 

John Tanton’s anti-immigrant legacy spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations.

 

The Big Three also have close connections with a number of people in the Trump administration. As the president ramps up his anti-immigrant policies, extremists from Tanton’s network are finding positions of authority within the administration.

 

Tanton’s views were first revealed when a series of private memos he wrote to leaders of FAIR were leaked to the press. In an October 1986 memo he wrote, “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

 

FAIR, the action arm of the movement, regularly deploys its employees to lobby legislators to introduce anti-immigrant legislation in state legislatures nationwide. Its lobbying efforts to repeal birthright citizenship and ban sanctuary law span decades.

 

FAIR’s self-described mission is to reduce overall immigration and has big allies in, or connected to, the White House. Allies include former employees Julie Kirchner, who now serves as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ombudsman, John Zadrozny, an official at the State Department, and Ian Smith. Smith had stints at the State Department and Domestic Policy Council but ultimately had to resign in August 2018 after leaked emails tied him to white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor.

 

Center for Immigration Studies, the think tank of the movement run by Mark Krikorian, regularly publishes discredited reports about immigrants. CIS reports have been widely criticized and debunked by groups such as the Immigration Policy Center and the CATO Institute. Still, the hate group has gained legitimacy in Trump’s administration.

 

In early 2017, Stephen Miller, a senior advisor in the White House, cited a CIS study in defending Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. “First of all, 72 individuals, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, have been implicated in terroristic activity in the United States who hail from those seven nations, point one,” Miller said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Fact-checkers at The Washington Post debunked this talking point.

 

In April 2016, CIS published a “wish list” of policies, many of which have been implemented by the Trump administration. These policies range from terminating the diversity visa lottery program, to refugee admissions. In September 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the lowest refugee cap since the passage of the Refugee Act in 2018.

 

Krikorian appears in the press and on television programs ranging from Fox & Friends, where he spoke about immigration with former ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, to C-SPAN, where he defended the inclusion of material from the white nationalist site VDARE in CIS’s weekly newsletter.

 

VDARE is an anti-immigration, white nationalist hate site founded by Peter Brimelow “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century.” Brimelow says VDARE.com was an idea that “flowed out of the best-selling book I wrote back in 1995, Alien Nation,” an anti-immigrant book about Brimelow’s perspective on how the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 changed the United States. According to a Nov. 2, 1995, memo by Tanton, he “encouraged Brimelow to write his book,” and “provided the necessary research funds to get it done.” On July 17, 2019, Brimelow tweeted, “Very sad to hear of John Tanton’s passing – great immigration patriot. ‘Truly a citizen who has taken up arms for his country,’ in Robert E. Lee’s phrase.” He linked to a VDARE article about Tanton’s legacy.

 

NumbersUSA is the grassroots organizer of the anti-immigrant movement. The group sends action alerts urging its followers to contact their representatives in support of anti-immigrant legislation. Roy Beck, the executive director of the organization, has tried to distance the group and himself from Tanton and his legacy. However, in a memo, Tanton wrote Beck asking him to sign on as his “ heir apparent” in the case of his death and thanked him the next day, Jan. 6, 1998, for doing so.

 

Beck was also a longtime editor for Tanton’s The Social Contract Press (TSCP), a white nationalist group that publishes articles written by white nationalists. In 1994, while Beck was still an employee, TSCP published an English translation of the openly racist French book, The Camp of the Saints. Tanton wrote that he was “honored” to republish the novel.

 

Tanton was critical to securing initial funding for a number of these organizations, including by introducing leaders of FAIR to the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund’s original mandate was to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic stock of those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.” Tanton himself said in 1993, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

 

These groups still are able to thrive thanks to grantmakers including the Colcom Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Political Research Associates published a report this year detailing more than $100 million being given to FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA alone from 2006 – 2016. Other groups within this network, including Californians for Population Stabilization and Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR’s legal arm, boast more than $7 million each during this same period.

 

Tanton’s legacy is difficult to overstate. Other groups within the network also are experiencing mainstream success. ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant hate group that lobbies for English only legislation and policies across the country, met with Trump and aides to Vice President Mike Pence multiple times in 2018 and as recently as July 11 of this year. Executive director Stephen Guschov recounted the last meeting in a blog post. He said it was about, “official English legislation and to continue to advocate for President Trump to sign a new Executive Order to effectively repeal and replace former President Clinton’s onerous Executive Order 13166 that requires foreign language translations and interpretations for all federally funded agencies and contractors.” ProEnglish’s former executive director is Robert “Bob” Vandervoort, who is also the former head of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance. That group is a satellite for white nationalist hate group American Renaissance.

 

Tanton’s influence is seen in state legislatures, and especially at the federal level, where his mentees and allies have imbibed his material, enacted his policies, and sold a rehabbed version of Tanton, critically leaving out his explicitly racist views.

 

On July 17, FAIR president Dan Stein published a press release, calling Tanton “a selfless giver of his time and talents in the interests of a better tomorrow.” He added, “For John, the big reward was to see a number of the organizations he helped conceive grow into tall oaks – guiding and shaping the public discourse in history-changing ways.”

 

Leaders of groups within Tanton’s network regularly obfuscate Tanton’s racist views or their connections to Tanton himself. In a spring 2018 edition of The Social Contract Press, Tanton wrote a blog directly attempting to do the same with NumbersUSA and CIS. He wrote:

 

NumbersUSA, an organization I helped start, but on whose board I do not serve, has also made stellar contributions to the immigration reform debate. I also helped raise a grant in 1985 for the Center for Immigration Studies, but I have played no role in the Center’s growth or development.

 

In September 1986, a year after CIS was founded as a project of FAIR, it became independent, but the relationship with Tanton was far from over. The same year, Tanton wrote a memo discussing the need to get CIS properly functioning: “We need to get CIS fully funded and entrenched as a major Washington think-tank, one that can venture into issues, which FAIR is not yet ready to raise.” Eight years later, in 1994, Tanton wrote that he still was setting “the proper roles for FAIR and CIS.”

 

Jared Taylor, the white nationalist who created American Renaissance, was a close friend of Tanton.

 

During the latest episode of Taylor’s podcast, “Radio Renaissance,” he mourned Tanton’s death, praising him as a man who “became very concerned about the demographic future of the United States.” His pseudonymous cohost, Paul Kersey, hailed Tanton’s legacy through the groups he founded that ensured “these ideas would flourish.” Taylor added: “Everything I know about immigration I learned from CIS.”

 

For more articles about immigration, populist policies, population growth and white nationalism click through.

Borders Nationalism and Pandemics

The Anglo world including Australia, US, UK, parts of Europe and developing world there have been xenophobic and nationalist obsessions coursing through political and media elites as not just a political strategy but as deep seated nativist ideology.

The COVID-19 pandemic was originally viewed as an Asian or Chinese problem but has now spread and managed to show how unprepared many western nations have been.

From John Quiggin in Inside Story:

Border deflection

 

The pandemic shows up the weaknesses of nationalism
Supporters of ethnonationalist and anti-immigrant sentiment have been quick to seize on the Covid-19 pandemic as evidence against what they call “open borders,” by which they mean any relaxation of the stringent controls that prohibit international migration by anyone who falls outside a tightly defined set of categories, each subject to numerical limits. The underlying idea is that foreigners who don’t look or think like us are all potential carriers of infection, and that we can keep ourselves safe by excluding them.
The reality is quite different. The vast majority of Australia Covid-19 cases acquired overseas had a recent history of travel to Europe or the Americas, or arrived on cruise ships such as the Ruby Princess. Hardly any (in fact none, as far as I can determine) were new migrants to Australia.

 

It could scarcely be otherwise. Australia (or at least some Australians) welcomed 162,000 migrants in 2019. The same year saw forty-two million passenger arrivals. On average, a Boeing 787 landing in Australia with a full load of 300 passengers contains just one permanent migrant.

 

This is the contradiction within the thinking of immigration restrictionists. While many like to cast themselves as “left behind” “stayers” — in contrast to “rootless cosmopolitans” — lots of them enjoy international travel. This was strikingly illustrated by the Brexiteers’ attachment to the traditional blue-covered British passports — hardly something that would matter to anyone content to stay in their home country.
More generally, the push to reduce international migration has been matched by all-out efforts to promote tourism. Scott Morrison embodies these contradictions. As managing director of Tourism Australia he famously asked, “Where they bloody hell are you?”, inviting the entire world to enjoy our beaches and charming cities; as prime minister, he cut the immigration intake by 30,000 (about one day’s worth of passenger arrivals) declaring “enough, enough, enough… The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full.” Tourists, of course — who are by definition engaged in travel — use our roads and public transports at least as much as permanent migrants.
It’s not only migration that ethnonationalists have in their sights, but also any kind of international cooperation (unless it involves waging war). Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of the Australian and admirer of Hungary, Poland and other anti-democratic regimes, says that “coronavirus is the hunter-killer enemy of globalisation”…..’

 

Many conservative governments’ white nationalist and ‘great replacement theory’ narratives and arguments, promoted too easily by like minded media, have been wrong footed or contradicted, to the point of appearing incompetent and bigoted.
For more articles and blogs on immigration, white nationalism and related populist politics click through.

 

E-Learning for University Students in Africa

E-learning maybe the solution for increased affordable access to effective education across the world as an organic extension of distance learning, open university and on campus study using ‘FLIPPED learning model’, dependent upon digital resources and communication.

Parts of Africa, and the world, can use e-learning for access.

African University Study via E-Learning (Image copyright Pexels)

For many parts of Africa it is a solution to limited or no access, from Deutsche Welle:

The importance of studying at home for a degree: E-learning in Africa

Many young Africans dream of a higher education. But they often don’t have the means: colleges are often far away and accommodation is expensive. Online universities and e-learning may provide a viable solution.

Lectures with compulsory attendance were not an option for Alida Tapsoba. The 29-year-old from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, has to earn a living and therefore needs to be in control of when she works and when she studies. With this in mind, she decided to take an online course. “But I was also afraid. I wasn’t sure if I could do it,” the journalism student told DW. “You have to be well organized to deliver the assignments on time — especially if you work extra hours.”

Alida Tapsoba said her choice is rather expensive. She spends a lot of money on internet access. She needs to download large files, which is time-consuming and costly. Rebecca Stromeyer knows the problem well. She said that in many African countries, internet access is considerably more expensive than in Germany. Stromeyer is the founder of e-Learning Africa, an annual conference which attracts experts in the field to network and exchange information in a pan-African context.

No digital infrastructure

Internet access varies much across the continent. “Kenya is a pioneer, even in rural areas,” said Stromeyer. In the Central African Republic, by contrast, only a few people can accesss the internet. “Conditions are not yet so ideal that everyone in Africa can complete an e-learning program,” said Stromeyer. She adds that governments need put more efforts into developing the infrastructure.

“Nevertheless, the need to develop e-learning was much stronger in Africa than in Europe,” said the communications technology expert. And it is not restricted to university studies. The school system often does not work, especially in rural areas. There is a lack of teachers and textbooks. Stromeyer advocates using the internet for education in schools as well, although she believes that students learn better at school than they do online.

Flexible and individual

Tony Carr, from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, begs to differ: “Sitting in a lecture hall with 600 other students is much like taking a degree by correspondence. Online interactions can be much warmer and personal. They can bring students closer together than a course requiring attendance.”

Flexibility is another advantage. Young people can also save on accommodation costs by staying at home and not having to rent a room in another city. They can tailor their studies to fit their needs, focus on the skills they believe to be most important and take courses they would not otherwise have access to.

Alida Tapsoba is a case in point. She dreams of working abroad as a journalist. She could not find the master’s course she was looking for in her home town. But a renowned journalism school in Paris had just what she wanted.

South Africa’s pioneers

The University of South Africa (UNISA) pioneered distance learning on the continent. When it was founded in the 1940s it offered only degrees by correspondence. Today, it is on its way to full digitalization. By its own account, it is Africa’s largest distance learning institution.

Tony Carr refers to a research paper into online studies in Africa, which compared different countries between 2011 and 2016. It showed that South Africa was the pioneer in e-learning, followed by Angola, Nigeria and Tunisia. According to Carr, this growth goes hand in hand with internet access, income levels and the increase of the middle class in the countries mentioned.

Generally speaking, Anglophone countries lead the field, Stromeyer said. But there is a growing number of initiatives in French-speaking West Africa. Ivory Coast founded the state-run Universite Virtuelle de Cote d’Ivoire four years ago. “An outstanding institution,” said Stromeyer. “It had the advantage of being able to learn from the mistakes of others.”

High demand in African countries

Many employers still believe that online studies are worth less than degrees that require a physical presence. “They believe that the courses are shorter and that less content is conveyed,” said Stromeyer. “This is not true. The need for e-learning is great in Africa, where an above-average number of young people live. Traditional universities and student accommodation are often overcrowded.” Stromeyer recommended a mixture of online and attendance studies, since young people also have the need to socialize and be part of a community.

The main thing is to gather in-depth information about online courses and providers, Tony Carr pointed out. An online university can be located anywhere, and can circumvent the national accreditation system. Experts recommend asking precisely which degree can be obtained and whether it is recognized in your own country or abroad.

 

For more articles and blog posts about adult learning, andragogy, business training, course design, CPD Continuing Professional Development, e-learning in higher education, ID Instructional Design, international students, MOOCs, Online Education, Pedagogy and Program Design, click through.