UniSey gets new digital library | 08 November 2019
Students and lecturers of the University of Seychelles (UniSey) are since yesterday able to freely access without internet connection a large variety of learning, teaching and other resource material through a digital library pilot project donated by the Unesco.
Saidou Sireh Jallow, education specialist from the Unesco Regional Office for Eastern Africa, handed over the Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning (RACHEL), a prototype of a free off-line digital library, to the vice- chancellor of the UniSey, Dr Justin Valentin, during a ceremony to roll out and launch the programme at the Anse Royale campus yesterday morning.
Mr Jallow and two other Unesco consultants – the president and founder of Distance Education Africa (DEAfrica), Sidiki Traore and communication, information specialist Gideon Mwaura – then gave a detailed overview of the content of the library and its benefits.
The digital library project, which is entitled ‘Building a culture of reading through digital media’, is also being piloted in other countries of the region namely the Comoros, Madagascar, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.
Mr Jallow stated that the programme has been designed to make accessible a wide range of educational material, learning and teaching resources to communities in remote areas where internet connection is not accessible.
He said the programme offers real opportunities to tackle educational challenges and improve transfer of knowledge by making freely available a wealth of resources to those communities without internet access thus ensuring no one is left behind.
“Unesco Africa, through this programme, is providing solution to deliver the best free educational content off-line to ensure everyone can access educational resources anytime, anywhere,” he said.
Through the detailed overview presented by Mr Traore and Mr Mwaura, UniSey students, lecturers and guests present learned how to connect to the library by wifi through their phones and laptops.
They also learned of the countless benefits of such a library.
The prototype of the digital library with a one terabyte hard drive can be charged using both electricity and solar power and can be used for up to eight hours.
Dr Valentin said the idea to have a digital library at the UniSey was first presented to him by the director of Unesco Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, and Ambassador Barry Faure on the sidelines of the TVET conference held here in July this year.
He said he eagerly welcomed the idea to pilot the project.
“I knew from the outset that we were being presented with a range of resources which has the potential to transform teaching and learning at all levels,” Dr Valentin pointed out.
He said such digital material shows the power of online education resources (OER) and the advancement to higher education.
Dr Valentin highlighted that OER is gradually changing the teaching and learning landscape and education institutions around the world are embracing this new approach to sharing educational expertise.
“OER challenges learners to lessen their dependence on teachers while at the same time create a new modality of training which fits very well with our motto ‘Your future in your hands’,” Dr Valentin remarked.
Dr Valentin said the new piece of education technology is also available to teachers and students from other educational institutions in the country who are welcomed to the UniSey’s library to discover its wealth of resources.
Dr Valentin said with the new project, the UniSey subscribes fully to SDG 4 which seeks to ensure equity, quality, inclusiveness and lifelong learning.
He added that the new digital library is a great development which will supplement the existing traditional library.
“As from today students and teachers can access a new range of information and the interesting thing with the programme is that it can also be accessed from the vicinity of around 50 metres away from the library,” Dr Valentin noted.
Yesterday afternoon a group of UniSey personnel followed in depth training and interaction with the new technology so they can afterwards become the local tutors and advocate of the new programme.