The Indian minister of External Affairs, S.M. Krishna and his Ugandan counterpart for Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, officially opened the tele-education learning centre at Makerere University on August 16.
The two ministers were linked through a videoconference facility.
“This is yet another landmark in our relationship with India. This facility will provide educational opportunities to many more people than it would have been with scholarships,” Kutesa said.
The tele-education learning centre stationed at the faculty of Computing and Informatics Technology (FCIT) enables students attend courses offered by universities in India without necessarily traveling there.
The students access live lectures, seeing the lecturer on a screen in front of the lecture room, while the lecturer views them through an overhead camera.
The facility offers room for full interaction between the lecturer and the students and students can also interact with students in other countries offering similar courses since they all attend the same lecture at the same time.
The facility is part of the Pan-African e-Network project. At a Pan-African parliamentary meet in Johannesburg in 2004, Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, the then president of India, offered to set up a Pan-African e-network.
The network is on satellite and optical fibre cable technologies and hopes to provide the 53 member states of the African Union with services in Tele-Medicine, Tele-Education and Video-conferencing and Voice over IP (VVIP) for heads of states. It was allocated $170 million and the first phase kicked off last year in 11 African countries, including Uganda.
“Under the project, 34 learning centres and 30 VVIP have already been set up in 11 African countries. Tele-medicine patient-end locations have been set up in 11 Indian super specialty hospitals. These have been connected to 33 patient-end hospitals in African countries. Tele-medicine consultations have already started in some of the African countries,” Krishna said.
Mulago National Referral Hospital and State House Entebbe are beneficiaries too of the project. The centre at Makerere University is one of the three regional tele-education centres - the others are Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana and University of Yaounde, Cameroon. The Makerere centre serves eastern Africa.
Krishna noted that over 1,700 students from several African countries have already registered with Indian universities and are attaining education through the centres. Some 236 students were admitted at Makerere University at its first intake late last year.
The courses at the Makerere University centre include Diploma in Information Technology, Bachelor of Sciences in IT, Postgraduate Diploma in IT, Master’s in Financial Management and Control and Master’s in Business Administration- International Business - the same courses attended by Rwanda, Botswana and Malawi.
The university intends to take on two new courses; a bachelor’s course in Finance and Investment Analysis to be provided by Amity University and a master’s course in Business Administration majoring in Human Resource and Marketing which will be provided by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
A new round of intake started this August and enrollment of the potential students will end in mid July 2010. The learning centres are linked to five Indian universities: Amity at Noida; IGNOU at New Delhi; Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) at Pilani; Delhi; and Madras.
Meanwhile, Krishna has unveiled the second phase of the Pan-African e-Network Project that will benefit 12 countries: Botswana, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Zambia and Uganda. During the inauguration, Krishna held online interactions with dignitaries from each of the 12 countries.