Advisory Board Member: Bernard Nkuyubwatsi

April 6, 2014 in advisoryboard, featured, guestpost

Today we have the first of our blog posts from our new Open Education Working Group Advisory Board announced last week. Bernard Nkuyubwatsi has already written for us twice with a post on Open Education Rwanda and his personal account of multidimensional migration for social inclusion. Today he talks about what open education means to him.


bernardI am interested in MOOCs, OER, open educational practices and open education policies that can enable widening access to higher education globally, including the settings with low levels of access to technologies and resources. For education to be opened up globally, I believe that not only courses and content needs to be open, but equally, there is need of an open system that enables learners who take the courses and use the content to gain credit from their investment if they meet same or similar standards as formal students. To measure how both formal and non-formal learners meet the standard, similar assessment opportunities would be provided to both categories for awarding their accomplishment based on measurable competencies. This would enable social inclusion in the higher education system which is at the heart of my interest in open education, OER, MOOCs as well as open educational practices and policies.

I advocate equal treatment of learners in formal higher education institutions and non-formal learners who cannot afford tertiary education but can leverage their socio-economic disadvantage with engagement with open courses and content to meet same standards as formal students. This would reduce the imbalance in terms of inclusion in higher education between learners from different socio-economic background. I also advocate flexibility that enables the dissemination of open content and courses using alternative media that consider target learners’ access to technologies. Such alternative would avoid the transfer of the digital divide into educational divide.

My involvement in open education started in 2010 in the online communities that discussed designing Open Educational Resources university. Inspired by ideas shared in this community and the concepts, theories and best practices learned in the UK OU’s MA in Online and Distance Education, I started my volunteer work with Rwanda Education Board’s Department of ICT in Education, Open, Distance and eLearning in September 2011. My contribution to this board was a concept paper that led to the appointment of a task force and working group to work on the University of Rwanda College of Open and Distance Learning. I have been a member of both the task force and working group.

In effort to involve all stakeholders in Rwandan higher education in open education, OER and MOOC related discussion, I started the Open Education Rwanda’s Network. This is an open Facebook community created to facilitate a multidirectional discussion around these topics. The community also provides a space for sharing information on latest developments and opportunities in open education, MOOCs, OER and education in general. In addition, this community collaboratively consult in finding appropriate name in the local language for key concepts in open education, OER and MOOCs. This open consultation helps communicate related practices and research in a language that is accessible to potential beneficiaries. Hopefully, with a collective engagement of different stakeholders in Rwanda, we will be able to open up opportunities to thousands of Rwandans who wish to attend higher education but have not been included in the mainstream system which currently provide access to only about six percent of secondary education graduates.

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