Challenges in Higher Education Distance Learning in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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INTRODUCTION

Open and distance learning has created opportunities for all sorts of people in all walks of life to access education (Badza & Chakuchichi 2009). However, distance learning in the Democratic Republic of Congo is still a field demanding a lot of research and practice to ensure successful implementation.

The use of information and communication technology (ICT) in distance learning in the higher education sector is facing a lot of problems in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This article addresses only some of the main obstacles; the complete list is very long.

The first problem is the limited technologies. The Democratic Republic of Congo depends on its ICT through imported goods; all hardware and software are made outside of Democratic Republic of Congo.

The second problem is the exorbitant costs for such technologies; because all the equipment is imported, it is subject to taxes, shipment fees, and so on.

The third problem is that many higher education institutions are located in rural areas that stable electricity - or lack electricity entirely, creating a major obstacle to the effective use of ICT for distance learning.

The fourth problem is that in some corners of my country, old technologies such as tape recorders and video are still a novelty; how can we even think to talk about new technologies in those areas?

The fifth is a lack of trained instructors. Technologies can be readily available at any place, but it will be very complicated to use it effectively because of the lack of trained people.

NEED FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

The Democratic Republic of Congo, with 49 years of independence from Belgium, has never entered such a huge problem of reconstruction and development as today. The program of reconstruction of the country is divided into five sectors: education, electricity, water, health, and infrastructure. In light of this huge program, the country is in great need of skilled people to contribute to and participate in the Congolese work market.

Because the country has a high rate of illiteracy, a new condensed and functional version of the content of learning is needed so the population can learn in their spare time. Many workers are highly interested and motivated to learn in their spare time, because they can be working and learning at convenient times, improving their skills to match the evolution of their jobs. People are working under stress created by new jobs, social need, and economic situation; self-training is needed for many people to update their skills and knowledge.

CHALLENGES TO DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION SECTOR

It is easy to talk about distance learning and its needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo but is very hard to talk about the challenges because they are so numerous.

The first challenge is connected to the quality of materials. Here the big question is how much the people trying to develop these materials are qualified for this job, abiding by national requirement and policy.

The second challenge is related to a lack of financial resources. In the last few years of war, the financial area is facing many problems. …