FAO-African Virtual University agreement on e-learning

A partnership aimed at widening access to education and communications technologies in developing countries

12 March 2010, Rome - FAO and the African Virtual University (AVU) have signed a partnership agreement aimed at widening access to education and communications technologies in developing countries. The two organizations will share educational resources and integrate FAO e-learning courses in the AVU e-campus for Development and Peace. This partnership conforms to FAO's mandate for capacity development and enables the AVU to widen access to education and to improve the quality of its learning programmes.

A formal agreement was signed today at FAO headquarters in Rome by the AVU Rector Dr. Bakary Diallo, and FAO Assistant Director-General Mr. Hafez Ghanem on behalf of Mr. Jim Butler, Deputy Director General, Knowledge.

The signing ceremony was attended by the Director of the Office of Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension Mr. Anton Mangstl, the Chief of Knowledge and Capacity Development Branch Mr. Stephen Rudgard, and other FAO officials who played a prominent role in consolidating this partnership.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr. Mangstl stated that in recent years, FAO has been actively consolidating partnerships with a number of academic institutions dealing with capacity development issues. "This partnership is extremely strategic for it helps enhance the human resources required for the economic and social advancement of developing countries," he said.

Dr. Diallo expressed satisfaction at what he described as "a relevant and important collaboration" which will be "so beneficial to Africa's young generations." He indicated that the AVU was proud to announce that it has established the largest network of open distance and e-learning institutions in Africa.

The AVU collaborates with more than 50 partner institutions in more than 27 African countries. Over its 13 years of existence, it has trained more than 40,000 students.

"The greatest asset of the AVU is its ability to work across borders and language groups in Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa," underlined Dr. Diallo.


The UN agency based in Rome and the AVU will offer the most current and cutting-edge content for e-learning courses that integrate new ideas and new technologies. One of their major goals is the creation and dissemination of materials to promote the right to food, food safety and food security.

The distance learning programmes will be delivered by qualified professors from local African Universities and certification would be granted by the AVU upon course completion.

The e-learning courses being provided by FAO include the Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK) for building capacity to better manage and exchange knowledge and information and a series of courses on food security developed by the EC/FAO programme on Food Security Information for Decision Making.

They also include a course on the organization, management and procedures of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and a series of courses on the right to adequate food.

The AVU will provide an annual report including relevant information and statistics on the different uses of the FAO e-learning lessons. The report will also provide information on the number of students, their geographic location, their organization or institution, and the total number of certificates or diplomas granted every year.

"There is no doubt that this information will be crucial to FAO for impact assessment and evaluation purposes," Mr. Mangstl said.

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
The signing ceremony of the FAO-AVU agreement