Contextual Background to supporting Learning in the Digital Age: A comparative Study of Botswana and Lesotho
The government of Botswana in line with its Vision 2016, the National Development Plans – NDP-8 and NDP-9, developed a National ICT Policy which envisioned to position Botswana for sustainable growth in the digital age by serving as a key catalyst in achieving social, economic, political and cultural transformation within the country (Botswana National Information and Communications Policy V 2005, 8) A formal assessment on the current state of e-learning in Botswana preceded the introduction of the policy as it enabled the authorities to be in a position to determine the level of effort required to introduce this very important development. The results of the benchmarking and ereadiness assessments indicate that Botswana has a good infrastructure and supporting legislation in place, which provides the country with a solid foundation for accelerating an integrated National ICT agenda. (Botswana National Information and Communications Policy V 2005, 10) // In November 2007, the Tertiary Education Council facilitated a workshop the resultant of which was an intergraded tertiary education plan for the period 2009-2015. This white paper adopted a holistic view of how the tertiary education sector will deliver benefits by amongst others “the establishment of a sector wide tertiary education e-learning system that can be accessed by all the tertiary education institutions”. (Tertiary Education Council, formulating the NDP10 plan consultation paper, January 2008, 13) // Botswana College of Distance and Open learning (BOCODOL) has, ever since its inception had technology as one of the issues that were top on its agenda. For instance in the BOCODOL Strategic Business Plan 2000-2003, Planning for Progress and Excellence in Distance Education, the MultiMedia and ICT Department was mandated to support the introduction and strengthening of the ICT development through the review and development of the ICT strategy. In the strategic plan of 2003-2006, the College adopted the efficient and effective application of technology as one of the key result areas. The idea behind this was to harness technology for efficient and effective development and delivery of quality products and services. // As part of its strategic goals, BOCODOL is currently working towards developing ODL and ICT expertise, in order to progressively increase College bandwidth to facilitate delivery of on-line programmes and services. This is done to ensure that the College is in a position to respond more effectively to the needs of its learners in these matters. // Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning embraces the e-learning initiative not for its strategic growth in increasing access but also to position itself in a global market by reaching out far away learners. The effect of this would be to expand the market base and also inadvertently improve on quality of the service due to the external scrutiny the product will be subjected to internationally. // As part of ministry of Education and Training’s stress on practical programmes and the desire to bridge the ‘digital divide’ and achieve its strategic goal 1 of improving access and equity of education and training at all levels by 2015, the Kingdom of Lesotho intends to develop sufficient, skilled and motivated human resource for the education and training system through the use of ICT and implementation of ICT programmes for all institutions of learning. This will be done through increased utilisation of ICT in teaching and learning and the use of ICT as an important tool for expanding the learning environment (ESSP, 2005). According to the Education Sector Strategic Plan (2005), the government of Lesotho is aware of the existing knowledge or information gaps between itself and the advance world as a development impediment that needs to be addressed. // Lesotho College of Education in line with the ESSP (2005) recognises technology based learning and in its Strategic Plan (2006/7) clearly articulates the integration of technology in the teaching and learning of College programmes, the use of ICT to support learners through e-learning streamline administration and enhancement of communication skills development among staff and learners.
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