Construction of Mzuzu University (Mzuni) Open and Distance Learning (ODL) centre to the tune of US$3.1 million (over K2.2 billion) has been completed and is expected to reach out to at least 10, 000 students in the next four years.
Speaking Tuesday when Minister of Education Science and Technology Bright Msaka visited the centre, Mzuni’s deputy vice chancellor, Fred Wanyavinkhumbo Msiska said the facility will improve running of programmes through ODL.
He said the ODL centre will have a satellite centre in Mulanje, Balaka, Lilongwe and Karonga and are expected to start operating in June this year.
“Apart from relying on old age print instructional modules, we will be running programmes through what is normally referred to as E-learning, through the computers that will be installed here.
“In this facility, we have capacity to teach at a distance to our learners in their various satellite centres. For example, if we sit into a studio here, we can video-stream live lectures to centres like Mulanje, Balaka, Lilongwe and Karonga,” he explained.
He said the development will reduce costs that students are supposed to be incurring to go and interact with their lecturers in Mzuzu as they will just be required to go to their nearest satellite centre.
“So they would interact through remedial classes using the videoconferencing facility or, indeed, use Skype through the computers, or have discussion rooms within the Learning Management System which is already developed,” Msiska said.
He said Mzuni started the ODL programme in 2006 but did not have custom design and built accommodation to facilitate that mode of delivery.
“Through the government kind consideration, under Higher Education, Science and Technology Project, we were able to be funded to construct the infrastructure we have here,” Msiska said.
After inspecting the facility, the minister expressed satisfaction with workmanship of the new infrastructure.
Msaka said the project, also taking place in other universities in the country, is aimed at improving the capacity of the institutions to deliver on research, technology and the teaching of science.
“As you have seen, the centre has state-of-the-art laboratories, lecture rooms and other facilities for research and technology in chemistry, biology, and physics.
“So we are set and I’m delighted to hear that most of the equipment should be here by April and anytime soon we should be able to open this centre and make sure that the Mzuzu University is able to deliver well the courses that they are designed to deliver,” the minister said.
He said the E-learning through the district satellite centres will enable many people have access to tertiary education within their respective areas at minimum costs.
“This development is clear testimony that education standards are improving and access to tertiary education, especially in science and technology is increasing,” Msaka said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :