By Harold Elletson
eLearning Africa shows the world “what an exciting, innovative continent Africa is” say the organisers of Africa’s leading conference on technology assisted learning and training. This year’s eLearning Africa, which took place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from 23 – 27 October and focused on “the keys to the future: learnability and employability” was a “great success,” they say.
“eLearning Africa is a content driven conference and it brings together everybody working in this domain of digital education – people doing research, building tools, teachers, small companies, big companies. It’s a fabulous meeting ground,” says Rebecca Stromeyer, the founder of eLearning Africa and Chief Executive of ICWE GmbH, the German company, which organises the event. “It has really helped to show the world what an exciting, innovative continent Africa is and it has focussed attention on the role technology can play in spreading educational opportunity and meeting the UN’s development targets.”
eLearning Africa has gained a reputation for leading the discussion on key issues in African education and training. Its programme includes a ministerial round table, as well as debates, seminars and discussions. One minister described the event as “the new reference theatre for the inter-generational transmission of new knowledge at the continental level.”
Cote d’Ivoire’s Education Minister, HE Mme Kandia Kamissoko Camara, told the conference that she was convinced that the dual focus on both employability and learnability was vital.
“It concerns the employability of young people in a competitive global context and the appropriation of moral and civic values,” she said. “It is no longer a matter of training office clerks for the needs of the administration (this season is over!); but to build the African of today and tomorrow in relation to the requirements, on the one hand of open and global competition, based on talent and skills at both individual and collective level, and secondly socioprofessional insertion in a world in difficulty with employment.”
Other speakers in plenary sessions of the conference included Martin Dougiamas, the founder of Moodle, which has become the world’s largest education platform, and Professor N’Dri Therese Assie-Lumumba of Cornell University, who is one of the world’s greatest experts on comparative education.
The eLearning Africa conference was accompanied by an exhibition at which international companies and organisations presented new technology-based solutions, services and courses.
eLearning Africa is a lot more than just a conference and an exhibition, though. It is also a network of experts throughout Africa and the world, who are helping Africa to seize the opportunity technology offers to expand the reach of education.
“In its fourteen years of existence, eLearning Africa has made a real contribution to the expansion of education in Africa,” says Rebecca Stromeyer. “Our network of experts from all over the world is unique and it is full of people who are helping to transform the prospects of Africans. At the eLearning Africa conferences, when people from all over the world get together, ideas are exchanged, partnerships are created and friendships are forged. It is a very special event.”