By Kemo Cham
Michigan State University (MSU) has unveiled a $1 million project that aims at developing agriculture in Africa. Accordingly, researchers at the US university will use $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and team up with African educators to help develop free and open access to agriculture education material, with the aim of improving agricultural practices and build a sustainable economy on the continent.
A report on the university’s website states that an 18-month long pilot project will set out to establish, alongside African educational institutions, ”a virtual hub of resources and curriculum for Master of Science degrees in agriculture, with areas of emphasis in livestock, crops and agribusiness.”
The $1million grant is said to be part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Agricultural Development initiative, which is working with a wide range of partners in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to provide millions of small farmers in the developing world with tools and opportunities to boost their yields.
The report say that beneficiaries of the project will include faculty and student researchers from various agricultural universities across the continent. It will also include representatives of nongovernmental organizations as well as farmers from around the continent.
“The project comes at an important time for African institutions, which are looking for effective ways to address the development of their educational agriculture programming with limited financial resources,” Christine Geith, assistant provost and executive director of Michigan State University’s Global Learning Ventures, was quoted on the school’s website.
The report added that MSU will work with OER Africa, a new project headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and other international experts to develop best practices for sharing information through open education resources – an educational learning trend in which materials reside in a public domain for users to freely share and repurpose. The project will allow users to form learning networks that will share content such as modules, textbook material and videos via the Web. In remote areas where Internet is less accessible, information will be distributed through DVDs and printed material.
By Kemo Cham