Our project focuses on determining equitable access to, and improving the quality of, international distance education (IDE) in South Africa.
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This is important because the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) introduced in Sept 2015 aim to ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality education, including at the university level (Goal 4.3).
This is particularly crucial in Africa where enrolment in tertiary educations (8%) is the lowest of any continent (UNESCO 2012).
Distance education (DE) is proven to offer access to Higher Education to students facing demographic and socio-economic disadvantages (gender, race, disability, later learners, and learners with caring responsibilities).
South Africa, particularly, The University of South Africa (UNISA), is the primary provider of mass DE for international students in Africa. However, it is not fully known what drivers are influencing IDE’s supply and demand in Africa and how far IDE can meet the SDG aims of equitable access to education. This is what we aim to find out.
Additionally, the SDGs also promise quality education but this requires capacity building to assess what works and how to fine-tune teaching to meet student needs. To aid this process we will be adapting, to the African context, a learning design tool developed by the Open University (OU).