Web based Open Distance Learning in Somalia
This training programme took place whilst the civil conflict in Somalia was at its peak. Mogadishu represented a high security risk, though other cities such as Hargeisa were accessible. The objective was to provide training in financial management (public and private sector) as part of a programme operated by Universities across Somalia. The only feasible approach was to combine web based Open Distance Learning with face to face tutorial support by University lecturers.
Most Somalia Universities have continued to operate throughout the conflict. They all have satellite internet access, though there are problems of speed and interruptions to the service. However, there was only very limited expertise within the universities of financial management in the public or private sectors. The course was operated at six Somali participating Universities.
- Puntland State University (Puntland)
- East Africa University (Puntland)
- University of Hargeisa (Somaliland)
- Amoud University (Somaliland)
- Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development SIMAD (Somalia)
- Mogadishu University (Somalia)
As many lecturers only had limited technical knowledge of financial management, all had to receive preparatory training, and a number of tutors themselves undertook the course leading to the Certificate in Financial Planning.
The course comprised two levels (to be studied in sequence) and five units (the fifth unit is split into two segments):
Recording financial transactions
Information for management control
Maintaining financial records
Accounting for costs
Public financial management Introductory Level
Public financial management Advanced Level
The units were studied in two groups:
Group 1 Units 1 and 2 (10 weeks plus examinations)
Group 2 Units 3 through 5 (24 weeks plus examinations)
Students had to pass all five units to be awarded a certificate. One re-sit per unit was allowed.
In addition to the face-to-face lecturing and tutorial sessions, the course was also delivered via web-based open-distance-learning (ODL). The following resources were available to the students:
- Study Text Book for each unit (soft/hard copy)
- Tutorial Material (soft/hard copy)
- Video Lectures from UFH
- Library of reference material (online)
- I-learn interactive computer based learning programme
- Query Board (online)
Tutor support was provided by the Somali based tutors at each of the six universities for up to a maximum five hours a week. Tutorials were based on the tutorial material, as posted on the website.
I-learn was an online study aid that was available through the Course Website. Each student was given access to this facility at the start of the course.
The Course Website also had a library area with documents and links to other material relevant to the course. The Website had a Query Board for students to post queries about areas of the course they do not understand. All students and tutors were able to respond to the queries.
Assessment for each unit was by final examination set and assessed by the University of Fort Hare. The examinations were taken under controlled conditions with a set time limit in accordance with normal examination practice. Students had to pass papers for all five units to successfully complete the course and receive certification. The pass mark for each paper was 50%.
In addition to the final exam, there was a mid-term assessment for each unit. This did not count towards the final mark but enabled tutors to assess any gaps in a student’s knowledge. Mid-term assessment results were posted on the Course Website, along with tutorial material, which is to be completed by students for discussion at tutorial sessions.
The course and re-sit examinations were completed in December 2007. Results were issued in April 2008, with certificates issued in June 2008. A summary of the results is set out in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Summary of Results from First Phase Examinations
|No of students
Important lessons have been learned from the operation of the course:
- Need for training of trainers – training of trainers took place in Hargeisa because of security concerns in Mogadishu
- The web site and I-learning were valuable but constrained by problems of Internet access
- Video lectures were valuable and should be expanded
- Limited library facilities at the Universities need to be addressed by making reference material available on-line.