Thursday, 22 June 2017

Australia-Africa Universities Network Funding 2017

After the successful implementation of the first funded project from the AAUN on the rapid elearning methodology, we were a bit disappointed not to have secured another project when the announcements were made in February 2017. But we had hope when the AAUN announced, that it had earmarked another 'three excellent' projects for funding in case they received additional funds. Here it is, yesterday the email restored the happiness back in the team when we were announced that our application has finally been successful! We thank the AAUN for their continued support to the University of Mauritius initiatives. It is the second AAUN project where the University of Mauritius is in the leading role. 

A summary of our project proposal is provided below:

We intend to conduct three workshops over a 1 year period with 20 educators who are interested to act as change agents to engage into a grass-root level transformation of their respective school environment. Innovation in Education and capacity building of educators in ICTs and Leadership form important elements of the knowledge society. The research team will engage into a discussion of the best educational philosophy and pedagogical model to run the capacity-building workshops to ensure transfer and acquisition of actionable skills and competencies. Once the educators are identified, we will conduct a training needs analysis with them along the themes proposed to refine our curriculum and strategy. The aim is to develop a tailor-made but adaptable and efficient continuous professional development model that can be later replicated and scaled up and applied in other developing country contexts. The approach will be a blend of online interaction, face-to-face meetings, and distributed work environment so that contact with the participants is maintained throughout the project. From the research perspective, this will take the form of an action-research project where the researchers will be mainly acting as coach, guide and critical observers. Through the online environment the educators will interact with the project partners to have access to their expertise and to engage in rich social exchanges. They will be requested to keep an online journal to regularly document and share progress made and issues encountered at school level so that collective strategies can be elaborated and tested. We expect that these change agents will be equipped with leadership skills and futures thinking skills to better influence school-based policy making to improve the overall school environment, and by extension progress towards a sustainable KS development initiative.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

My first week as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources)

The satisfaction and momentary feeling of happiness over, I assumed duty on 24th April 2017 and on the very first day itself, I could feel the responsibility and stress linked to this position. Too late now, its now to be or not to be…Three years, that’s a short time frame to turnaround the difficulties faced by this grand but complex institution. Three years, that’s a very long time in the career of an academic to move into management. I can understand now why all my colleagues who are Deans of Faculties often would be relieved when the end of the Deanship is near….

But I have accepted a challenge, and that is the main thing. The first week was mainly devoted to getting to understand the big picture, and the details of the modus operandi of the office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources). Everybody has expectations on this office to turn-around the financial situation of this University. I have said it to one newspaper, that maybe, there are some exaggerations in the form of the expectation. First, because this University is a public organization and operates in a quite rigid governance framework. This is why my vision, that I presented to the selection panel was that of a future where the teaching and learning model of the University is redefined. 

So coming back to the first week, I have been able to establish some key priorities to deal with in the first instance. The first one is a revision of our marketing strategy and the way we advertise our programmes in the press, and through other networks. The Vice-Chancellor and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academia) and many other colleagues are fully agreeable to this. One way to generate more funds at the University is through internationalization, and the capacity to attract international students and international faculty. We want to streamline the process of online application and payment for international students, so as to improve their experiences right at the start. In so doing we will also improve our admission system for local students.