The Arizona State University (ASU) of the United States of America has partnered with the Ministry of Education in implementing a project through which public university students in Malawi will be able to access academic materials online without using the Internet.
Lilongwe University of Science and Technology (Luanar), Mzuzu University (Mzuni), University of Malawi (Unima), Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) and the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas) will benefit from the programme under the Strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi Activity (Sheama) project.
Officials from ASU, are training lecturers and directors from the beneficiary universities on the use of SunSpot (Solar Powered Offline Teaching) a system that will be used in the project.
Speaking on Monday in Blantyre, on the sidelines of the three-day training, ASU and Sheama programme director, professor Samuel DiGangi said the project will greatly improve student learning through Open Distance Learning (ODL).
“These gadgets will ensure that students are able to access education beyond the classroom for free. Each SunSPOT gadget will cover a radius of 40 metres and can accommodate 25 users at a time,” said DiGangi.
He further said students will be able to download the course materials including course videos, upload assignments using their digital device without using internet data bundles.
Information and Communication Technology specialist in the Ministry of Education, MacPherson Matewere said the technology has come at the right time when online learning has become essential in the country’s public universities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has made our universities rely much on online learning and the coming in of this technology is a welcome development particularly considering that accessibility is free.”
Sheama, the four-year project which rolled out in 2018, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
It aims to increase the number of skilled and employable workforce in Malawi by working with public universities to provide market-driven programs through quality Open Distance Learning.
DiGangi, the device accommodates 25 users at a time.
Matewere: Online learning has become essential.