I have been pleased to read the report about UNISA/KIE case and wish to send some comments. Then, later on, I will give my views on distance learning programmes.
However, I wish to remain anonymous though some evidence of my claims might be provided if necessary.
I have been thinking on the issue not only as a victim, but more importantly, as an educational practitioner.
First of all, I wish to refute the assumption that students were not given learning materials because they had not paid enough money. This is totally false.
The problem was rather inefficiency and misunderstanding between the two institutions.
When I say “inefficiency”, I recognize that UNISA is ranked, in terms of quality, number 11 in Africa and number 1476 worldwide.
This is a good position since our first, and the only institution on the list (NUR) is number 52 in Africa and 5888 worldwide. However, this does not invalidate the fact that KIE and UNISA joint failure discredited both institutions.
In fact, not all students had paid 720 dollars as it might have been said by the representative of UNISA at KIE.
The payment of each individual student depended on the cost of his/her specific program and was made with the assistance of UNISA representative at KIE and the guidance of UNISA admission letter.
I personally paid 960 dollars, the total cost of the course, unless the UNISA representative did not know the right course cost, and asked me to pay less than the total.
But when I paid, he was telling me that it is the total of the course and he was checking that from UNISA prospects.
When I read the report that students did not pay enough money, I get confused about the meaning of “enough”.
Why is this issue concerning to me, as an educational practitioner? The most concerning thing is a sort of jeopardy to the profession.
When an example of a similar practice by the same institution (KIE) is taken, a necessity to doubt the future orientation of our educational practice arises.
Well, the pretext might be “there is no financial resources”, but of course registering students without considering financial cost is one of the hallmark of por educational design and practice.
Moreover, Distance Education is not something people dream and get up in the morning and say “we are starting a distance learning programme’.
This issue needs attention indeed because some others higher learning institutions have the same tendency.
Distance learning and e-learning programmes require training on the part of staff, training which is different from conventional campus-based education.
It might be mistakenly assumed that KIE learned from experience but, the first intake has been a disastrous failure.
Does this mean that distance education is not possible in Rwanda? I hope that this experiment hasn’t failed.
Name withheld on request