The COVID-19 pandemic has truly caused the unprecedented global turmoil, which has kept 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries out of schools, with almost half without any educational opportunities. This is particularly true for sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNESCO analyses conducted during the last week of April 2020, 53 of the 55 AU Member States decided upon the lockdown of their schools to respond to the ubiquitous spread of the disease.
The global crisis has confirmed that education is not a time-sensitive and place-bound process. Current trends in the African region illustrate that distance education is gaining momentum despite the existing persistent technological barriers. In light of the multidimensional crisis caused by COVID-19, every ounce of capacity for uninterrupted learning means the world.
Staying on the frontline of mitigating the pandemic-related education crisis, UNESCO agencies, specifically UNESCO INRULED, IICBA and UNESCO IITE, alongside the most high-profile team of partners and experts from the Smart Learning Institute of the Beijing Normal University and the Open University of China, coordinated by the UNESCO Office in Nairobi, worked out a new online course to guide teachers in Africa through and over the COVID-19 education plunge.
The Introduction to Online and Distance Learning for Teachers in Africa (ODLTA) course was officially and enthusiastically launched by the entire project task force on 7 July 2020. While leveraging combinations of available, viable and affordable technologies, this urgent international initiative will contribute to expanding educational opportunities and reaching out to communities that have been traditionally excluded from the formal learning process even before the pandemic, such as the poor, persons with disabilities, women, residents of post-conflict areas, inhabitants of rural and remote regions, etc.
The course content includes insightful information on the peculiarities and advantages of distance education. It covers the abundance of opportunities remote education modes provide, but also does not leave existing complications unnoticed.
ODLTA provides plenty of practical tips and instructions for online teaching, as well as a detailed and consistent list of all available distance learning tools and solutions for learners to consider. There is also a comprehensive table of all necessary instrumentality for organizing efficient and appealing teaching activities.
Enrolment in ODLTA is sure to require some efforts and passion from learners, but the reward will certainly be tangible!