The Open University and the University of Southampton are currently exploring a potential partnership, to create a nutrition programme for health workers, based on open educational resources that can be delivered as face to face, distance learning or e-learning in Africa. The proposal builds on the expertise and experience in both organisations in the field of nutrition education and training and delivering international programmes with partners in Africa.
There is a clear and urgent need for basic education and capacity building to address the critical nutrition issues in Africa to help meet the Millennium Development Goals in the next four years and to improve the health of populations beyond 2015. Critical areas to focus on include effective management of severe acute malnutrition, proactive nutrition data collection and analysis, and the planning and management of effective supplementary and targeted feeding programmes.
The University of Southampton has significant experience in terms of its international experience in the field of nutrition in developing countries and in delivering programmes with practical application on the ground, including at postgraduate level. The Open University’s HEAT team has been working with nutrition experts in Ethiopia to create a distance learning Nutrition Module of around 35 hours of learning, which is published under a creative commons licence – so it is free for anyone to access, use, and adapt to meet local needs. Both organisations have extensive networks with academics, practitioners and organisations working in the field of nutrition education in developing regions.
Although discussions are still at a fairly early stage, both institutions are keen to secure funding for the development of a nutrition programme aimed at up-skilling nurse practitioners in key aspects of nutrition education, planning and management. Working with African nutrition experts and educators, the University of Southampton and the OU will support the development of up-to-date, relevant and urgently needed learning resources. The programme team will draw on and adapt existing resources developed by the OU’s HEAT team and the University of Southampton to create a set of open educational learning resources which can be integrated within existing programmes in Africa as well as contribute to new pathways for continuing professional development. All of the resources will be developed as distance learning materials, which can also be delivered as part of face-to face teaching programmes.