The Mastercard Foundation, USIU Africa, and the Arizona State University (ASU) have launched the Mastercard Foundation scholars program eLearning initiative.

The program will over the next 5 years enable more than 600,000 university students to pursue their studies online from anywhere across Africa.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities including those within the scholars program network were forced to suspend physical classes and adopt online learning. Building on this, the initiative will increase the laid out investments to strengthen the existing capacity of university partners to deliver high-quality, relevant, and inclusive eLearning courses.

It will also increase the number of young people accessing tertiary level education, particularly those living with disabilities, young women, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and those in rural areas. This will in turn contribute to an eLearning community of practice in Africa, and beyond, that will enable collaborative learning and sharing of practices and resources.

During the first phase of the program which ran from 2020 to 2022, 135 faculty and staff from across 10 partner institutions will be trained to design and deliver online courses. An estimated 95,000 students will access online learning. In the second phase running from 2022 to 2025, the number of online learners will grow to more than 600,000.  The initiative will be scaled to include new partners and institutions that are not currently part of the scholars program network.

“This agreement will bolster our e-learning capacity-building alongside 10 other participating international universities and strengthen the Scholars Program partner universities to deliver high-quality and inclusive online instruction and provide virtual support to all students,” said Professor Freida Brown, Interim Vice Chancellor, USIU Africa.

Additionally, the initiative is aligned with the Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy and the vision for the Mastercard Foundation scholars program to create a network of youth and institutions driving inclusive socio-economic change in Africa. This initiative will connect young people to educational content that is relevant and context specific through a curriculum that reflects labour market realities.

Since training began in July 2021, the 135 eLearning champions have commenced their learning journey. They have completed a 2 week virtual masterclass for teaching online with ASU and have advanced to the next phase. The second phase includes specialized coaching tracks in instructional design and online pedagogy with USIU Africa.

The following are the partners participating in the first phase of the Mastercard Foundation scholars program e-learning initiative.

1. African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)
2. American University of Beirut
3. Ashesi University
4. EARTH University
5. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
6. Makerere University
7. United States International University-Africa
8. University of Abomey-Calavi
9. University of Gondar
10. University of Rwanda