Bringing the African Experience to the Virtual Classroom

[AUC School of Business]


With COVID-19 setting boundaries in the classroom and the widespread policies that attempt to mitigate the pandemic outbreak, internationalization had to be revisited under restricted travel conditions. With that, the AUC School of Business piloted a videoconferencing initiative to bring the African experience to its students in their virtual classes.

On June 17, Thomas Kgokolo, deputy board chairperson at the Mineworkers Provident Fund (MWPF) in South Africa, was the esteemed guest speaker during the Business Finance course offered to students in the summer semester, led by Wael Abdallah, assistant professor of finance.

In his session, Kgokolo spoke to 27 students about financial statements and ratio analysis, meanwhile blending theory with practice by comparing two companies, one Egyptian and another South African, through a cross-sectional analysis and contrasting their financial standpoints to put the learning into perspective. Additionally, reflections and discussions were raised on the environmental risks that COVID-19 has brought about, and the impact that imposes on the different financial institutions.

“I thought it was fascinating to learn about a South African firm from a South African financial analyst.  Seeing the comparison between Egypt and South Africa was very impressive. I particularly admired the fact that we were discussing relatively small businesses (globally) instead of just leading firms. I really enjoyed the seminar overall,” voices undergraduate student Nada Gaber.

Echoing the same thoughts, the remainder of the class, including Assistant Professor Abdallah, agreeably found the session to be “a memorable experience,” one that’s engaging, informative, interesting, practical, relatable, and “highly appreciated,” giving due acknowledgment and attribution to Kgokolo’s expertise that was highly reflected in his elucidations and presentation skills.

One student, Islam Alaa, expresses: “It was an amazing and dynamic lecture by a prominent African financial figure. I really hope we can repeat this experience on a regular basis.”

Notably, Kgokolo significantly sensed the students’ sentiments, reflecting: “What encouraged me was the energy in the virtual session and the type of questions asked. It was a truly liberating session indeed. It was a pleasure being part of it.”

Internationalization has always been embedded in the heart of the AUC School of Business, built on the three cornerstones of connecting, diversifying, and glocalizing (CDG). We truly believe that innovation and collaboration are the solutions to navigating the COVID-19 era.

Therefore, we wholeheartedly trust that there is no better time than now to foster an intercultural learning experience for our students and be a source of producing and disseminating international knowledge for the benefit of the region at wide, even during such exceptional times.

By Reem Abouemera

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