Last month I attended the 7th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training, dubbed e-Learning Africa. The conference took place in Cotonou, Benin.
Benin is one of those tiny countries in West Africa where am told people play football with their passports in their pockets, just in case you kick the ball too hard and you have to get a visa to go collect it in the next country. Apart from the very interesting and educative goings on in the conference, it was time to meet a different culture and learn some history. It was very frustrating for me as I was in a French speaking country and getting around can be very difficult if you don´t have the basics.
Things were made better by my colleagues, especially Ade from the GIZ office in Benin, who took time to refresh my history a bit. I got to learn that Benin is he Voodoo capital of the world, and also that Voodoo is totally different from Juju, which is magic. Voodoo is basically the native religion in Benin, just like we have many other religions in the world. More than half of Beninese practice Voodoo. I however missed to visit the city that is the real epicentre of Voodoo, Ouidah, as well as another really interesting place, Ganvie.
Ganvie has whole lot of interesting History dating back to the slave trade era. The city of about 15,000 people is built on the shallow waters of Lake Nokoue, with houses and everything planted on the lake with stilts (poles). This was done to prevent the kings of Dahomey from raiding the coastal inhabitants and selling them off as slaves, as they were afraid of water and could not come near water.
Back to e-LA where we marketed ict@innovation at the GIZ stand. It was a good time to learn and network with people from all over the world. With the next FOSS Business Models ToT coming up in Senegal for the French speaking countries, we were able to drum up some interest in potential participants.
Here are just a few of the programmes that captured my imagination:
E-Academy – This is a division of GIZ which is accommodated at the
Academy for International Cooperation (AIZ) and forms an integral
component of the framework for Human Capacity Development. It
fosters the global dissemination and use of innovative communication
and new learning technologies for further education such as
e-learning, m-learning or scenario based learning as well as live
online collaboration. Please see the following link for more
– This is a very interesting community that is being built around
the Open-Sankore software. The main thing that caught my interest is
the interactive white board appliance which makes any board an IWB,
meaning that you can use any board to teach, or wall for that
matter, so long as you have this gadget. Very innovative, especially
now that its open source.
But Sankore is more than that. It is also:
an ecosystem open to all teachers for the creation, distribution, and sharing of unrestricted, free digital education resources.
A program for equipping digital classes in Africa, for training teachers digitally and producing unrestricted, free digital education resources.
Open-Sankoré software: an unrestricted, free program for teaching,
creating, and sharing.
Please see this link for more on Sankore. http://sankore.org/en. I think there is a great future for this programme.
Emerald Group Publishing – This is a leading independent publisher of global research with impact in business, society, public policy and education. This is an online resource that may be iof interest to many of us who are involved in research and in academia. More details can be found here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com