Challenges Faced by Higher Education Institutions When Migrating from the Traditional to the Digital Classroom During COVID-19, was the title of a paper presented by Professor Vannie Naidoo of UKZN’s School of Management, Information Technology and Governance at the Association of African Universities (AAU) 15th Quadrennial General Conference of African University Leaders.
The online conference, themed The Future of Higher Education in Africa, was held under the patronage of the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo, and attracted academic leaders, policy-makers, funders, government ministers and educational stakeholders across the African continent, and beyond.
Sub-themes for the conference were:
• The Future of African Higher Education Post-COVID-19
• Contributions of African Higher Education Institutions to Addressing the Challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic
• Contributions of African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals
• Funding of African Higher Education Institutions in the face of the unpredictable economy
• Mainstreaming e-learning and the digital divide
• Contributions of the Diaspora to African Higher Education
In her presentation, Naidoo said the COVID-19 pandemic had forced universities in Africa and worldwide to migrate at a very accelerated pace from the traditional classroom to the virtual classroom. However, as universities in Africa very quickly adapted to the new normal, there were various challenges occurring in the implementation of the new system.
She said in spite of the poor infrastructure in South Africa, power outages and other challenges, it was commendable to see academic staff rise to the challenge.
‘As we move through this difficult humanitarian crisis, know that as academics, you are not alone. There will be an end to the pandemic. But for now, we need to take steps to live and work in the “new normal”. For us academics it means continuing to deliver our teaching on online platforms,’ added Naidoo.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga