WENR, May/June 2001: Africa


New Online Program to be Launched

In an effort to combat the scarcity of current academic journals in African universities, administrators in 10 East African schools and four institutions in northern Europe are ready to launch an online program to facilitate the exchange of full-text articles and complete electronic publications. The program, called SAP [1] — the Supply of Academic Publications to and From Universities in Developing Countries is set to begin in July and, for the initial three-year period, will provide access to articles in the areas of development studies and business and management.

Educators have long seen poor access to academic literature in Africa as a major stumbling block to developing effective universities and research centers on the continent. Few institutions have the funds for full subscriptions, so exposure to the bulk of contemporary scholarship has been limited to article abstracts and select pieces that must be requested and sent by mail.

The SAP project counters these difficulties with enhanced cooperation between institutions. Four European universities Alborg University [2], the Universities of Antwerp [3] and Limburg [4] in Belgium and the University of Nijmegen [5] in the Netherlands — will receive the requests of the participating African universities and forward the needed articles via e-mail. The ten African institutions, in turn, will each receive subscriptions to 10 to 20 journals, which they will make available to the other members.

The project is expected to further incorporate and disseminate African research as well. In the process, select educators from universities in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be trained in the maintenance of online databases and information management. The participating African universities are:

Chronicle of Higher Education
March 16, 2001


Violent clashes between students and security forces at the University of Addis Ababa [15] have prompted the Education Ministry to close the school indefinitely. Students had gone on strike over what they saw as repressive campus security and disagreeable educational policies. A week of sit-ins culminated in an outbreak of violence as students destroyed university property and riot police responded with force. At least 39 people were killed, according to hospital officials.

New York Times
April 20, 2001


The Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) concluded its 21-day ultimatum period on April 2 and declared an indefinite strike. According to ASUU leaders, the strike is a direct result of the government’s failure to implement the reforms mapped out in a Dec. 18 agreement with the union.

Among the demands of the ASUU are:

Government officials call the demands preposterous. Strikes have altered university studies so much in past years that many students have spent several extra years in school trying to earn a diploma.

Panafrican News Agency
April 3, 2001

South Africa

The minister of education has announced an initiative to eliminate vestigial racial inequities in the country’s educational system. Among the plan’s objectives are the merging of certain public institutions and the increase of cooperation between schools.

Since the abolishment of apartheid, South Africa has seen little progress in the integration of learning and engagement of black academics. Most professors continue to be white, and the graduation rates of white students are twice as high as those of blacks.

In order to ameliorate these rifts, the minister plans to actively recruit educators from neighboring African nations, as well as to encourage the participation of recent native graduates. To bolster the pool of academic employment, he has called for an ambitious increase in graduation rates over the next five years.

The plan also calls for a restructuring of higher-education institutions, which should increase institutional efficacy and broaden the allocation of resources. In this vein, several mergers have already begun, including the combination of the M.L. Sultan Technikon [16] and the Natal Technikon [17] in Durban.

In regard to distance learning, the minister announced the consolidation of online projects at the University of South Africa [18] , Technikon South Africa [19] and Vista University [20].

Chronicle of Higher Education
March 23, 2001

Azaliah College [21] has received its accreditation from the U.S. Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council [22] in Washington, D.C., becoming the first African institution to do so. U.S. students can now apply for study grants to enroll in one of Azaliah’s higher-education programs.

The accreditation is just the latest of the school’s moves to become an internationally renowned distance-education provider. Based in South Africa, it has expanded over three continents. Azaliah Belgium is the representative European post, and plans to expand into India in the near future, while the long-lived Central Africa Correspondence College handles Azaliah’s operations in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia.

Business Day (Johannesburg)
March 29, 2001


Lecturers at the University of Zambia [13] have gone on strike to protest the government’s refusal to implement pay hikes that were promised in December. The teachers have repeatedly resisted appeals by union leaders and government officials alike, who claim their salary increases are forthcoming. The lecturers are demanding their full, contract-mandated salaries, with arrears dating back to Dec. 1. Until these demands are met, they say, the strike will continue.

Post of Zambia
April 2, 2001


Students protested at the University of Zimbabwe [14] after suffering major delays in receiving student grants and loans and after the suspected suicide of a female student. Police fired teargas into the crowd on the third day of the confrontation, resulting in one protester’s death.

Students are incensed over rising university costs in all areas of student life, combined with insufficient student allowances, which they say university officials have failed to distribute. In a related incident, many believe the reported suicide of a female student in March was actually a murder committed as she was working as a prostitute. Students resort to prostitution, as well as to theft, burglary and other crimes, when the university denies them reasonable financial security, protesters claim.

—BBC News
April 9, 2001