WENR, January/February 2003: Africa
International Donors Set 7 Nations on Education Fast-Track
Representatives of the international donor community agreed recently in Brussels to help seven developing countries in Africa and Latin America make their education plans a reality. Work is now proceeding to build the required capacity and to close a finance gap, estimated at US$400 million over the next three years.
The agreement under the Education For All Fast Track Initiative is designed to ensure that developing countries reach the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal: to provide every girl and boy with a complete primary school education by 2015.
The seven countries — Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Mauritania, Nicaragua and Niger — are the first group of developing countries to benefit from the initiative, launched in June 2002. A further five high-population countries — India, Pakistan, DR Congo, Nigeria and Bangladesh — were also invited to carry out additional policy work so they can join the initiative in the future.
— This Day (Lagos)
Dec. 2, 2002
Construction Begins on University Expansion
Construction for the first stage of the Luanda campus of Agostinho Neto University started recently just south of the capital in the district of Kilamba Kiaxi.
The first stage will see the construction of four departments: chemistry, physics, mathematics and information technology. Construction of a central library will also be included in this first stage.
Construction of the first stage is expected to be completed by the end of 2004. The new campus will increase the state-run university’s student body from 8,000 to 17,000. The whole project should be finished in five years and will ultimately include nine new departments, the construction of a 350-bed hospital, a secondary school, a geology museum and accommodation for up to 5,100 students.
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
Jan. 21, 2003
Kofi Annan University to be Established
The United Nations Association of Ghana is to establish a university in the Greater Accra Region to be named after Ghana’s favorite son, U.N. Secretary-General Dr. Kofi Annan.
The university will follow Annan’s example by training students in conflict resolution and peace-keeping operations, among other programs.
Jan. 16, 2003
New President Pledges Free Primary Education for All
The Kenya National Union of Teachers has pledged to support newly elected President Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki won a landslide victory on a platform promising free primary-school education for all and improved human rights. Sworn in Dec. 30, he promised to rebuild a country brought to its knees by decades of corrupt rule by Daniel arap Moi.
The National Union of Teachers, Kenya’s largest teacher’s union, offered to support and assist the government’s policy of free education on the understanding that Kibaki remains true to his campaign promises, elects a new and competent national staff and implements a promised 1997 pay increase that the previous administration had stalled for years. The union secretary-general, Francis Nganga, stressed that “political sycophants should no longer be made to head such a crucial ministry.”
George Saitoti has been appointed the new minister of education. He said recently that parents would have to pay for school uniforms, but the government would handle other expenses, including textbooks. He warned that school officials would face unspecified sanctions should any students be turned away.
The start of the new academic term Jan. 7 saw the fulfillment of Kibaki’s promise as students returning from vacation to the country’s 17,000 primary schools found that fees had indeed been abolished. But students also found overflowing classrooms in some parts of the country as many parents who could previously not afford school tuition took advantage of the new laws. Enrollment at public schools in the last year of Moi’s rule was 85 percent, down from 95 percent in 1990; levies had excluded an estimated 3 million children from school.
Conservative estimates put the cost of implementing free primary school education at Sh5 billion (US$65 million). Kibaki’s government is confident it will be able to meet the costs, saying the previous government was so corrupt and inefficient that by simply running Kenya honestly, sufficient funds would be available. The government has already released Sh519 million to be shared among primary schools nationwide. Furthermore, UNICEF has pledged US$2.5 million to programs promoting female child education and rehabilitation of street children. The United Nations and the Kenyan government have also signed an agreement under the U.N. Development Assistance Framework to enhance collaboration and cooperation of various funds, to be implemented from 2004-2008.
January 2003 articles
Applications Flood Open University for First Term
Approximately 1.3 million prospective students have applied to National Open University for its first academic year, which begins the first quarter of 2003.
The university is a federal government program aimed at providing equal and adequate educational opportunities for all Nigerians. According to President Olusegun Obasanjo, the institution will only offer courses deemed most relevant to national development.
The university plans to use the Virtual Library Project, established in February 2002 by several of the country’s universities, to combat the problem of limited and outdated books.
Courses will be offered in information technology and computer science, agricultural science, business administration and management studies, engineering and building studies, education, science and technology, health sciences and legal studies, as well as vocational and continuing education studies.
Nov. 12, 2002
1,000 Students Accused of Degree Forgery
Authorities have discovered that about 1,000 final-year students at the University of Port Harcourt gained admission to the institution with fake West African Examination Council, certificates. Some staff at the institution are said to be at the center of the racket.
The fake certificates — mostly West African School Certificates and General Certificates of Education — were uncovered after the council made available the master list of exam results from the 1997-98 academic year.
Dec. 15, 2002
Pankshin College of Education Re-Opens
The Pankshin College of Education, shut down for four months after violent student demonstrations, reopened to normal academic activities Nov. 27.
This Day (Lagos)
Dec. 3, 2002
Unions Bring Universities to Standstill
There seems to be no end to the strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, now in its third month of protest. The university teachers are insisting they will not go back to work until the federal government implements the agreement it entered into on June 30, 2001.
The country’s tertiary institutions received another blow at the end of January, when the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, a union representing nonacademic staff, joined the strike, which it described as “total and indefinite” until all outstanding entitlements are paid.
Despite government attempts to force university employees back to work, no progress has been made. The academic calendar will likely be pushed even further back, and students longing for a return to the classroom will have to wait until the unions and the government can come to an agreement. Currently, there seems to be no guarantee that this will happen soon.
Feb. 28, 2003
Private University Welcomes First Intake of Students
Covenant University opened its doors to its first 1,404 students in February. The university, based in Ota, Ogun state, with a satellite campus in Lagos, was issued an operating license from the Nigerian Universities Commission in February 2002.
The three colleges that make up the university – College of Business and Social Sciences, College of Human Development and College of Science and Technology – are offering 20 programs in six departments.
Feb. 4, 2003
Mandela’s Alma Mater Gets New Lease of Life
The University of Fort Hare, where Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Chris Hani studied, was under threat of extinction barely two years ago.
In 2000, the South African government responded to falling enrollments by threatening the disappearance of Fort Hare as an independent institution. But a working party committee recommended a merger with Rhodes University, a former liberal white university. Now, in a remarkable change of fortunes, Fort Hare is moving from remote Alice in one of South Africa’s poorest provinces to East London, where it will take over the Rhodes East London campus. It is hoped the university will help regenerate East London, a major seaport and industrial city.
Concentrating mainly on the arts, with some science and in particular, agriculture, Fort Hare, like many formerly black universities, suffered a decline in student enrollment, to just 2,500. That number has risen dramatically to 7,200. The institution’s urban-centric programs, much better suited to a big-city setting, such as its MBA and other commercial programs will be moving from Alice to East London.
Nov. 29, 2002
Medical Training to be Restructured
As of 2005, medical students in South Africa will undergo a minimum of five years of medical training, followed by a two-year internship.
The current curriculum provides six years of academic training and a one-year internship. The rationale behind the curriculum change is that the current system is too theoretical and interns do not gain all exit competencies for service delivery.
Dec. 10, 2002
Merger Creates Durban Institute of Technology
A merger of M. L. Sultan Technikon and Natal Technikon on April 1 created the Durban Institute for Technology. Setting a precedent, the institute is the first merged institution of higher education in South Africa.
For a complete listing of proposed institutional mergers and closures, as laid out by the National Working Group in February 2002, please visit HERE.
New Grading, Exam Await Students
Starting this year, ninth-graders can expect to take a new exam to attain the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC).
The certificate marks the conclusion of the “general band” of school education and serves as an entry point into the “Further Education and Training” band, which students can either follow at school or at a further education and training college, which used to be called a technical college.
It was due to be implemented countrywide last year, but was postponed for a year after some provinces said they were not ready yet.
The GETC exchanges sit-down written exams for a mix of different tasks, group work and other exercises that are monitored and marked throughout the year. The “grade” pupils receive will no longer be dependent on an end-of-year exam, as in the past, but in their performance throughout the year, in addition to an exam set by a national committee. That grade will be between one and four, with four being the highest.
The new exam will be conducted at the end of the school year, pending approval from the nine heads of provincial education in March.
Cape Argus (Cape Town)
Jan. 28, 2003
Nkozi University Opens Kabale Branch
Nkozi University has opened a branch campus in the Kabale district. The university offers distance-learning degree courses in primary education and a diploma in advanced educational management.
The branch opened with 105 students and intends to offer more courses in the future.
Dec. 23, 2002
Millennium Institute to Upgrade
The Millennium Institute of Science and Information Technology is to become a university this year. It will be the first private university in Uganda to offer classes in computer science and information technology.
Dec. 24, 2002
Lecturers Threaten Strike
Academics at the University of Zambia are preparing to go on strike to improve pay and conditions. The protest, set for Feb. 17, could paralyze the university unless lecturers’ demands for a 100 percent pay increase, payment of a backlog of benefits and a package of basic perks are met.
Lecturers claim they are the most poorly paid in southern Africa and state that it is no surprise that the university lost more than 300 staff between 1999 and 2001. Most left for the Zambian private sector, the United States, South Africa or Botswana, making the brain drain in Zambia a national concern.
The University of Zambia is often beset by strikes owing to late payment of salaries and nonpayment of benefits, which typically extend the length of time students take to complete a degree from four years to six.
Nov. 29, 2002
Strike Goes Ahead
lecturers went on strike Feb. 17 and remained on strike after inconclusive talks with the Government March 3.
The university was officially closed March 8 and students were asked to go home until an agreement between the government and the union could be worked out.
University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union President Trywell Kalusopa said the strike would continue until all arrears are paid.
March 10, 2003
A monthlong strike by lecturers postponed end-of-year examinations at the National University of Science and Technology until January.
Examinations should have started Dec. 2. However, lecturers went on strike Oct. 30 and ended the protest Nov. 22. According to the teachers union, lecturers went back to work on condition that salary negotiations for 2003 continued.
Union officials are confident of reaching an agreement with the government, as more and more qualified academics leave the country for better paying positions abroad, leaving the nation’s universities manned by part-time lecturers and expatriates.
The Daily News (Harare)
Nov. 28, 2002
University Opening Delayed by Strike
The University of Zimbabwe failed to open for the 2003 academic year when nearly 600 lecturers went on an indefinite strike Feb. 21. The teachers are demanding a 50 percent retention allowance on their basic salaries.
Students, who were due to start their semester Feb. 24, have been loitering on campus, unsure whether they will be able to sit their already-delayed exams.
March 5, 2003