The National University of Vanuatu (NUV) organised a webinar on the “Free access to e-learning resources” on 8 February 2023 to share its experience on this innovative solution implemented in the education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total 15 participants from Vanuatu, France and Africa attended this very first webinar for DIRECCT education group.
A pandemic crisis marked by geographical challenge and a high cost of internet
In March 2020, COVID-19 struck worldwide. Like most countries, Vanuatu experienced its very first lockdown forcing schools and the NUV to explore remote learning options. The challenges of the remote learning were exacerbated in Vanuatu by the geography of the country and its 83 islands, the high cost of data bundles (€1.40 per GB in Vanuatu vs €0.74 per GB in France, so 89% more expensive) and the low purchasing power of the Ni-Vanuatu population. In Vanuatu, only 39.3% of the population has access to internet and only 64.7% of the population has access to electricity.
An innovative solution in the education sector
To ensure education continuity and avoid widening education access gaps, the Ministry of Education and Training in Vanuatu worked in partnership with Vanuatu telecommunications operators to provide free access to a selection of educational website including the NUV’s website and its Moodle platform.
Thanks to this ground-breaking approach, all the NUV’s students and teachers could connect free of charge to the NUV e-learning website. Indeed, the website as well as its Moodle platform are zero-rated so internet users can access it without data bundle deductions and, even, without any phone credit.
This Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Education and Training in Vanuatu and the telecommunications operators was highly beneficial to the NUV’s students during the two lockdowns in Vanuatu.
One of the NUV’s students, Ms. Jane Down, said “During the lockdown, I had to study at home. From my experience with Moodle and e-learning, I think Moodle is a well-designed platform and works fine. Teachers can upload lessons and create chatting forums. The University’s website and Moodle are accessible free of charge, but the background applications can use credit or the data bundle. So, the challenge is to deactivate all the applications running in the background!”.
A video was also created to guide the students through the connection process to access the e-learning platform: https://web.facebook.com/univanuatu/videos/3114045615509581/
An enriching webinar for DIRECCT education group
The DIRECCT Communications and Capitalisation Expert, Mr. Eric Mounier, said “It is a very interesting experience that the National University of Vanuatu shared with us today in this webinar. I hope it will inspire other projects, especially through the Research Institute for Development, (or IRD: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) or the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie”.
The participants really appreciated the solution provided by the NUV to ensure continuity of education and access to learning resources in times of crisis. The session recording, the presentation and the script were shared with members of the DIRECCT education group. The webinar is available online:
Click here to view the webinar presentation