A consultative workshop focusing on the futures of higher education in Mauritius, under the theme ‘Building a Roadmap to 2040’, kickstarted, yesterday morning, at the Hennessy Park Hotel in Ebène, in the presence of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission.
Other eminent personalities including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Head of Education for Southern Africa, Dr Peter Wells, the Resource person from UNISA South Africa, Professor Mpine Makoe, and the World Bank Expert on Higher Education, Dr Jamil Salmi, were also in attendance.
The workshop opened with a presentation by Professor Kiran Bhujun on ‘Understanding the rationale behind the futures of higher education in Mauritius initiative’, and another presentation on ‘The Mauritian higher education landscape and the preliminary findings on the futures of higher education in Mauritius’ delivered by Professor Romeela Mohee.
In her address, the Vice-Prime Minister underlined that in line with the rapidly changing landscape of higher education, it was primordial to strive to create a vision for higher education that was founded on the principles of forward-thinking, innovation, and responsiveness to the needs of society. She pointed out that the workshop had as inspirational catalyst the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference of May 2022 and its roadmap for higher education. “The United Nations Transforming Education Summit of September 2022,” she added, “provided the final ingredients for local higher education professionals to start preparing for the futures of higher education in Mauritius.”
As regards the response of the education sector to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vice-Prime Minister remarked that the emergence of digital technology was fast-forwarded and that it was now time to share the lessons learnt to collectively build on the advances made in the fields of technology-enabled learning to enhance the inclusiveness of higher education and its reach beyond the campus.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun also laid emphasis on the need to fully leverage technology in the learning process by facilitating the adoption of new technological tools and fashioning new learning models. As regards AI, she observed that it must be a tool which enhanced education processes and administration without replacing education and the human thinking process.
“As we build the leaders of tomorrow, we must embrace technology as a means to enhance the quality and accessibility of higher education,” affirmed the Education Minister.
She stated that universities must leverage the power of technology to create more personalised and adaptive learning experiences for students, along with face-to-face interactions, critical thinking and experiential learning in higher education.
Furthermore, the Vice-Prime Minister dwelt on the importance of impactful and relevant research, which she added, Government would continue to support. She encouraged all higher education institutions to tap into all research funding possibilities being offered.
The Vice-Prime Minister also called upon higher education institutions to show willingness to challenge traditional models of financing and operations, to engage with each other and with the world so as to contribute to the common good, and to find innovative ways to optimise their use of resources.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun reiterated the core values of Government as regards education, namely excellence, pursuit of knowledge and a belief in the transformative power of education to change lives and shape society. “We can count on the support of the World Bank and UNESCO and other stakeholders in our endeavour,” she rejoiced.
“By working together, we can create a higher education of the future that is both relevant and transformative, and by so doing, forge a future that is vibrant, innovative and inclusive, one that prepares our students to succeed in the 21st century and beyond,” she highlighted.