The Promise and Polemics of Virtual Higher Education in Sub-saharan Africa: A Case Study of a Transnational Business Program

By Victor Egan.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

From the beginning of 2004 to the end of 2006, an Australian university delivered a foreign-aid funded 24-unit, three-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree program in a virtual education mode in four countries in Africa. The four countries were Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The program was coordinated by the African Virtual University (AVU). This paper reports on the results of this transnational virtual higher education program. The results indicate substantial proof that the concept of virtual education is workable in Sub-Saharan Africa, but equally substantial inhibiting factors that impact on the delivery of such programs. The polemics undermining success include, firstly, universal issues evident in all countries, such as technological infrastructure, the potential for cultural pedagogical clash, and locally-oriented business mindsets; secondly, country-specific issues, such as English language proficiency, disjuncture between African secondary education systems and Western tertiary requirements, and characteristics of the student body; and thirdly, localized issues, such as the quality of local academics and administrators. A process of ‘rich contextualization’ is offered as a means of localizing foreign virtual higher education programs, and overcoming the inherent pedagogical problems. This process would involve contextualizing not only content, but also delivery style.

Keywords: Transnational Education, Virtual Education, Sub-saharan Africa, Business Studies

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.23-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 323.282KB).

Dr. Victor Egan

Secretary, Asian Forum on Business Education (AFBE), Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dr. Victor Egan has a degree in electrical engineering, a Masters in engineering management, and a PhD in Management. Dr. Egan has previously worked for 15 years in engineering design and project management in Australia, Ghana, and Thailand and has also worked for 10 years at an Australian university lecturing in Management in Australia, Africa, and South-east Asia. Dr. Egan has also spent a period of 2 years as Associate Dean of the Business School, and 4 years as Academic Coordinator of an Australian government funded development initiative in Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Dr. Egan is currently Secretary of the Asian Forum on Business Education (AFBE), which is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at fostering research relationships in the Asia region.

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