UNESCO-ICHEI and UNESCO Abuja and Dakar Offices formalize partnership for higher education digital transformation in West Africa

On 11 May 2021, the International Centre for Higher Education Innovation under the auspices of UNESCO (hereinafter referred to as “UNESCO-ICHEI”), together with the UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office for West Africa (hereinafter referred to as “UNESCO Abuja Office”) and the UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office for West Africa (Sahel) (hereinafter referred to as “UNESCO Dakar Office”) virtually signed a Partnership Agreement. The parties agreed to jointly promote access to, quality, and inclusion of Higher Education using innovations of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the ECOWAS region of West Africa.

During the virtual signing ceremony, Dr. Dimitri Sanga, Director UNESCO Dakar Regional Office, and OIC UNESCO Abuja Regional Office highlighted that UNESCO-ICHEI’s “ability to react quickly and effectively to reduce the harmful effects of this pandemic, through concrete capacity building actions in E-Learning, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the improvement of access and quality in higher education in Africa is much appreciated by both students and academics in West Africa”. He also said that UNESCO Abuja and Dakar Regional Offices consider UNESCO-ICHEI a vital partner to better promote quality higher education. Regarding the cooperation between the two organizations, he suggested that at least five countries in the ECOWAS region be identified as benefiting from projects of UNESCO-ICHEI and that a framework agreement with implementation modalities be signed by the end of 2021.

Professor LI Ming, Director of UNESCO-ICHEI said that West Africa is one of the priority areas of UNESCO-ICHEI’s work to support countries in the digital transformation of higher education. In line with this, International Institute of Online Education (IIOE), an open online education platform launched by UNESCO-ICHEI and its global partners in their bid to strengthen institutional capacity of online and blended higher education, has carried out online trainings during the COVID-19 pandemic to help universities in the ECOWAS region in ensuring education continuity and build teacher ICT capacity.

He said that UNESCO-ICHEI will continue to work with UNESCO Abuja and Dakar Offices to support ECOWAS countries in online and blended education transition and higher education digital transformation in the post Covid-19 era through provision of IIOE capacity building trainings for HE teachers, co-construction and upgrading of online curriculum and cooperation on research of higher education digital transformation. IIOE is a joint initiative in the spirit of co-construction and sharing with mutual benefits and is open to all ECOWAS countries and universities to benefit from its expertise, resources and network.