By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana
For the Botswana College of Distant and Open Learning (BOCODOL), climbing new ICT terrains comes as second nature. Just recently, the distant education provider unveilled its online services which are available to all the stakehoders at the college, from staff to college students, from far and near.
“Had it not been because internet connectivity is now universally available, BOCODOL would not have managed the progress it has realised towards institutionalisation of the online services. I wish to commend BOCODOL for its positive response to ICT developments in the country and urge other institutions to follow suit,” said the Minister of Education and Skills Development Dr. Unity Dow.
She said the efforts of BOCODOL in setting up the online services “would result in faster and more efficient service to our common client, the people of the Republic of Botswana.”
She explained that the online services which were being launched by BOCODOL were the core of a priority goal called ‘Utilisation of Integration of ICT in Education.’ “As the education sector, we seek to make ICT a core-driver of teaching and learning. We are happy to notethat our ODL institution has assumed leadership in this respect.”
The service that BOCODOL was launching had already been piloted and successfully used for transactions involving all tertiary programmes on offer at BOCODOL’s tertiary education would-be students who were able to apply on-line for admission, register for their respective programmes and pay fees thereof from any part of Botswana and the world. “This development is no doubt complementary to the online services being launched. Seemingly, BOCODOL has made e-learning a reality for Botswana,” said Dow.
The minister, however, was not without her reservations in as far as technology use in public institutions was concerned. “I thought it would be prudent for me to issue a word of caution regarding induction of technology. This caution is based on research findings which have established that in a number of developing countries, there has been wholesale and instantaneous shift to on-line and e-learning which unfortunately led to marginalisation of the very people that were supposed to be empowered through distance education.” She said BOCODOL would therefore do well to opt for a cautious and considerate approach for inducting technological solutions in the teaching and learning space.
In his speech, the BOCODOL Executive Director Daniel Tau said said the on-line services that his organisation was launching were not “the core business of the college. They were not an end in themselves but a means to the end.
“The services serve as enablers of our core business with which we hope to be more efficient, interesting and responsive to our learners. Our core business revolves around the many programmes, cources and services we provide to improve lives in Botswana.”