Alternative higher education has become a major subject in learning and teaching, reflective of current trends in educational provisions worldwide. Its promotion in sub-Saharan Africa has had some roots in the attempt to address the problems of inadequate educational provisions and respond to developments in educational technology. The promotion platforms have included universities, the industry, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private institutions. Alternative higher education refers to all forms of higher education, different in their provision formats from conventional education, but which nonetheless generally lead to the award of qualifications. While it takes place in out-of-school contexts, it often utilizes existing educational structures and syllabi, and may be adaptations of formal educational programmes. The forms include, but are not limited to continuing education, distance education, professional development training, adult and non-formal education, and web based learning. This paper seeks to explore the growing rationale for alternative education, the range of actors in sub-Saharan Africa, the programmes being provided, and how emerging policies and discussions across the globe are shaping its growth. The paper further explores the growing phenomenon of qualification frameworks on the continent while highlighting challenges observed in alternative higher education. Relevant government papers and policies, including reports by UNESCO developments are also examined. The paper submits that alternative routes to higher education in sub-Saharan Africa represent a major bridge to reducing existing divides and promoting educational access world-wide.
Gbolagade Adekanmbi, Independent Scholar/Researcher, Botswana
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