After concluding with the pilot cohort in December 2020, we were also able to participate as a collective in January's edition of #1Lib1Ref and you can view the program statistics here.
A call was put out for the main cohort of and we received over 500 applications from both Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa but no Lusophone applicant. English-speaking students form the bulk of enrolled students (333) while we enrolled 64 French-speaking students.
The main cohort got underway on 4th February with a virtual opening session.
The project is conducted in the 3 working languages of AfLIA ie English, French and Portuguese meaning that we have been able to benefit from the help of experienced Wikipedians across the community in a number of ways for example User:Csisc translated the project's meta page to French in addition to translating the course introduction and supplementary materials with related illustrations from French Wikipedia.
The reviews and various corrections of the french course content and facilitation of live sessions has been done with the help of other French-speaking Wikimedians such as :
It has been an opportunity for us to engage Wikimedians from various countries in Africa as guest presenters who have shared their knowledge, experience and GLAM-related expertise.
With live sessions held for English-speaking students on Tuesdays and Wednesday's for the French, there are the usual challenges of time, conflicting schedules, poor or no internet connectivity and no electricity.
There are some challenges we could not have imagined.For example, being a virtual course, a number of participants are able to attend from abroad and participate in virtual sessions and office hours. However, they are not able to engage with Wikipedia in terms of editing because of local legislation in the countries in which they are based.This negatively affects their participation in the course when it comes to assignments.
At this point in the course and beyond, course participants need the support of their local Wikimedia communities . To-date we have had at least 2 outreach/virtual meet & greet sessions between librarians and local Wikimedians from Botswana and Kenya. Others are still being planned and will be communicated.