Africa’s first ever online university begins operation

Upset by disparities in Africa’s education system, Gossy Ukanwoke, a Nigerian entrepreneur, has come up with Africa’s first fully-fledged online distance-learning platform called Beni American University.

Ukanwoke, 23, says he hopes the online university will fill the gap in the continent’s educational systems by bringing quality education to African learners looking to gain post-secondary diploma or degree.

Ukanwoke explained he grew up at a time when education was highly emphasized in Nigeria as a yardstick to measure success. Learners have however been considerably let down by infrastructure limitations.

More than 500,000 students in Nigeria miss university education each year, according to Ukanwoke. This, he explains formed the backdrop against which he started Beni American University.

“The best way to tackle problems is through technology. I have looked at ways to use technology to solve some of the problems Nigerians are facing in education,” Ukanwoke said.

Ukanwoke noted his 21st Century university has a strong emphasis on technology, Web 2.0 and entrepreneurship and is not limited to time, location, age, gender, race, colour or belief.

The university will have about 70 percent of the programme online, while the remaining would be offline. Lectures, instructions, quizzes, tests, assignments, and projects will be done and assessed online via “our learning platform’ accessible on Web and mobile.

He has had partnerships with Encipher, Pulse,Students Circle and Net Educational Advancement Initiative.

The hybrid institution will admit students with English Language proficiency, minimum of six credits in WASSCE or equivalent examinations including the National Examinations Council of Nigeria (NECO).

Plans are underway to form partnerships with several other international universities to enable enrolled students acquire certification, or continue their further studies.

“Having Internet infrastructure and access to computers allows us to see what’s happening on the other side of the world. We also get to look at situations or possibilities that can be used to solve problems in our own local economies,” he concluded.

Currently, the institution offers two undergraduate courses — Associate Degree in Business Management and Associate Degree in Management Information Systems — at $2000 each. Two Master’s programmes are also available including Masters in Business Administration and Master of Science in Information Systems at $3000 each. 25 percent scholarships are available for students who have spent the equivalent of a year at the university and have a minimum GPA of 3.5.

In 2010, Ukanwoke founded the Students Circle Network, an educational social network for college and high school students where they get access to course resources, live teacher help, scholarship offers, study groups among other student services for free.

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