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Open University Business School links with Africa are strengthened

Open University

Prof Jean Hartley, The Hon Pia Philip Michael, Bridget Nagomoro

The woman behind plans to open a girls’ school in South Sudan, where 90 per cent of women are illiterate, has visited The Open University Business School in the United Kingdom – as the OUBS leads a new model of management development in sub-Saharan Africa.

This will involve working closely African trainers and academics, says Francis Cattermole, Lecturer in Business Development (Africa).

Almost six years ago Bridget Nagomoro told John Benington, husband of Professor Jean Hartley, Professor in Public Leadership at the OUBS, of her dream to build a boarding school in her village. Jean and John, were in pre-independence South Sudan running workshops for the interim government, and agreed to help.

Jean recently welcomed Bridget, now the Government Commissioner for Ibba County, one of two women out of 79 commissioners, to the OU in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. Bridget was the only girl from her village to receive schooling after the age of 10, walking miles to school each day carrying and selling firewood.

Most girls in South Sudan leave school at 10 because of pressure from family, household duties and early pregnancy. Bridget continued her education at a convent and dreamed of building a boarding school for girls aged 10 and up.

With the help of churches in South Sudan, the local chief and the Friends of Ibba Girls School in the UK, £400,000 has been raised and building begun. The first intake of girls should be in February 2014 Bridget was accompanied by the South Sudan State Minister of Education, Western Equatorial State, The Hon Pia Philip Michael who said there is a need for more female teachers in South Sudan.

He said he likes the way The Open University operates in online learning and taking quality education to the people.

Professor Hartley said Bridget and Philip met staff in TESSA (Teacher Education in sub-Saharan Africa) discussing research and activities relevant to supporting teachers through open on-line teaching materials.

“The meeting was hugely successful and our visitors will be returning armed with CDs, papers, web links and contacts in East Africa,” she said.

Meanwhile the Open University Business School is developing a programme to meet the capacity building needs of management development in Africa. This involves working with public and private sector organisations to develop and trial various methods of content, pedagogy and delivery, said Francis Cattermole, Lecturer in Business Development (Africa).

“The intention is to work closely with African trainers and academics in this programme and it will be backed up by evaluative research led by the OU and using researchers in Africa and the UK. “The outcome is intended to be a new model of management development which is specifically fit for purpose in an African context,” he said.

Professor Rob Paton is leading the research proposal and Francis Cattermole is the lecturer responsible for working with organisations in Africa to develop and trial possible programmes.

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