WENR, March/April 2003: Africa
Report: E-Learning Holds Promise in Africa
In a region of the world where access to traditional education is hampered by poverty, political conflict and a lack of teachers and infrastructure, public-private arrangements are bringing e-learning to thousands of Africans, according to a recent report from the IBM Endowment for the Business of Government.
The report, The Promise of E-Learning in Africa: The Potential for Public-Private Partnerships, concludes that e-learning offers a flexible and cost-effective way to span the physical and economic barriers to traditional educational settings through such technologies as satellite downlinks, interactive television, videoconferencing and virtual educational networks.
Africa is cited as the only region in the world where the school-age population will increase rapidly over the next 20 years. Although e-learning technologies present many challenges, public-private partnerships are creating an increasing number of success stories.
Current e-learning collaborations in Africa include:
- South Africa’s National Department of Education and private companies have donated the hardware and provided financing and software for technologies to train teachers at 14 learning centers in remote areas. The program has trained approximately 13,500 teachers since 1998.
- A “virtual university” sponsored by the World Bank, which uses satellite and computer technologies, Internet access and an online digital library of more than 1,000 full-text journals to deliver academic courses to students in 15 sub-Saharan African countries. By the end of a pilot phase in early 2000, more than 12,000 students had completed semester-long courses in engineering and the sciences through the university.
- South Africa’s Department of Communications, nonprofit organizations and a consortium of private companies provided the technology, resources and know-how to launch a pilot program in June 2002 to establish e-learning centers in disadvantaged schools and community projects.
To move collaborations forward, the report recommends that:
- Multilateral agencies, governments and the private sector develop an agenda for action on e-learning in Africa with the understanding that the public sector cannot by itself meet the challenges presented by the introduction of new technologies.
- Government organizations and donor agencies work to ensure that legal and regulatory policies in Africa promote private-sector investments in telecommunications infrastructure, education and e-learning.
- Multilateral agencies and governments undertake market and regulatory surveys to guide technology and e-learning investment decisions and to support the development of a framework for public-private relationships.
The report was written by Norman LaRocque, policy adviser with the New Zealand Business Roundtable, and Michael Latham, president of CfBT Education Services, a U.K. nonprofit working in educational development.
— IBM Business of Endowment news release
Jan. 28, 2003
Brain Drain Costing Africa Billions
Approximately 70,000 highly qualified Africans leave their home countries annually, according to Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Edward Ofori-Sarpong.
In a recent lecture on the “Effects of Brain Drain in National Development,” Ofori-Sarpong said Africa spends an estimated US$4 billion annually to recruit about 100,000 skilled expatriates. Quoting from experts in the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa and International Organization for Migration, he said there are 30,000 Africans with doctorates living outside the continent.
He said 60,000 professionals, including doctors, university lecturers and engineers, left between 1985 and 1990. Approximately 6 percent of Ghana-trained doctors left the country in the 1980s, he added.
According to Ofori-Sarpong, there are 20,000 scientists and engineers — about 3.6 percent of the world’s scientific population — servicing Africa’s estimated 600 million people. “Africa would need at least 1 million scientists and engineers to sustain its development prospects,” he noted.
Official statistics indicate that skilled workers from South Africa who immigrated to other countries have cost that country an estimated US$7.8 billion in lost human capital, said Ofori-Sarpong. He cautioned that by failing to offer greener pastures for its own intelligentsia, the continent is committing suicide. He added that he was at a loss as to why African governments, who claim to be poor, find it logical to pay expatriates hundreds of times more than local experts.
— Ghanaian Chronicle
March 13, 2003
Nation Returns to School
In February, 250,000 Angolan children returned to school in the biggest education campaign in the country’s history.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture, UNICEF is helping to train 4,000 new teachers, restore 1,300 classrooms and prepare thousands of education kits to be supplied to the provinces of Bie and Malanje – the launch sites of the program and among the worst hit by the civil war. Funds from the European Union will expand the project to 30 other municipalities, where returning refugees will be a priority. Currently, 44 percent of Angolan children are out of school.
Feb. 11, 2003
University to Open in October
Presbyterian University College plans to open its doors to students in October.
Three campus locations have been chosen: Abetifi-Kwahu, Akropong-Akuapem and Agogo in the Ashanti Akim. The Abetifi campus will initially teach information technology and business management, while the other two will house medical science and humanities/development studies departments.
— Ghanaian Chronicle
March 28, 2003
Private Institute Plans 2004 Opening
In the region of Bonoua, 50 kilometers south of the capital Abidjan, plans are afoot to build the area’s first private school of higher education.
The Institute for Accountancy and Fiscal Studies is expecting its first students in January 2004. The founder of the school, Hubert Vangah, says the school will give students a chance to study locally rather than having to relocate to the capital.
— Notre Voie
Jan. 3, 2003
KIM Gains Official Recognition
The Ministry of Education has granted Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) official status to offer education and training and issue certificates and diplomas. The institute’s new accreditation marks the end of a 30-year struggle to be officially mandated to offer educational certificates.
— The East Africa Standard
Feb. 8, 2003
Ministry Clamps Down on Student Fraud
The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced plans to combat student fraud in institutions of higher education. Sweeping changes are to be made on how the schools screen for legitimate foreign students. The measures come in response to an outcry from Namibians, who believe foreign students limit the number of places available at public universities and schools.
The Immigration Department claims there are many visitors in the country claiming to be students who engage in other business. “Students” caught abusing the system will have their study permits terminated and will be deported back to their home countries.
The ministry will now only assess applications that have already filtered through tertiary schools or overseas consulates, as opposed to previously, when all applications were processed by the ministry.
There has also been recent concern expressed by the Ministry of Basic Education that the use of false matriculation certificates is on the increase. The director of National Examinations and Assessment, Cowley van der Merwe, recently issued a warning to institutions to compare certified documents to the original before verifying a candidate’s eligibility.
Approximately 30 to 35 students may be charged with submitting forged academic documents to institutions of higher learning in the country, including the University of Namibia and the Polytechnic of Namibia.
— The Namibian
Jan. 30, 2003
Adamawa State University Opens
Adamawa State University welcomed nearly 600 students this March when it opened its doors to academic activities.
The university, listed as a degree-granting institution by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, is offering courses in science, arts and technological disciplines. The new institution is located on the abandoned site of the state polytechnic and will eventually include a college of medicine and a school of remedial studies.
University officials hope the School of Agriculture will be able to complete a move to Ganye, where students can study in the correct environment.
— This Day
Feb. 15, 2003
Exam Results Reflect State of Education
A recent review of Nigerian education shows that from 1992 to 1999, Nigerian students trailed behind their counterparts in Ghana, Gambia, Sierra-Leone and Liberia in mathematics, English, physics and chemistry, based on their scores from examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council.
In its February report, Shelter Rights Initiative (SRI) expressed concerns that Nigerian scores for the period 2000 to 2003 will be even worse. The nongovernmental organization blames nonpayment of teachers’ salaries in several states across the country, where secondary schools in some areas are not in session for up to six months.
SRI cites shrinking budgetary allocations in education as the main factor in the deterioration of Nigerian education. According to the report, budgetary allocations by the current administration have been: 11.12 percent, 1999; 8.36 percent, 2000; 7 percent, 2001; 5.9 percent, 2002; and 1.8 percent, 2003.
The closure of universities due to the stalemate between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, now in its fifth month, is a further indication of trouble. The report also notes that of the 1,200 programs being run by Nigerian universities, 195 of them lack official accreditation by the National Universities Commission.
Feb. 17, 2003
WAEC Goes Online
The West African Examination Council has launched a Web site, which will publish current and historical examination data.
Students will now, for a small fee, be able to check their results online. Results of all examinations conducted in the last 10 years will be posted on the Web site. Databases will eventually be available for results, history, operations and research activities since the inception of the council in 1952.
— This Day
Feb. 26, 2003
Academy of Learning Closes
Educor, which ran the Academy of Learning, an adult education institution that teaches computer, bookkeeping and secretarial skills, has closed the school with immediate effect.
There were approximately 55 branches of the Academy of Learning, all of which were owned by franchisees. There were 2,800 students at the academy’s various outlets last year.
— Business Day
Feb. 11, 2003
UNISA Enters Tanzanian Market
The University of South Africa (UNISA) is moving into the Tanzanian education market and will be offering its programs in collaboration with the Civic Education Centre (CEC).
According to CEC Executive Director Paul Masawe, the two institutions have the go-ahead from all the relevant authorities, including the Higher Education Accreditation Council of Tanzania.
According to Masawe, undergraduate degree programs will be conducted at the Changganyikeni campus later in the year. A campus will also be constructed in the Mpiji area. Students, however, will be able to take UNISA programs wherever they are via distance learning and can take examinations at any of the local or international examination centers.
— Business Times
Jan. 31, 2003
Science University for Women Opens
The Kiriri Women’s University of Sciences and Technology began offering degrees in computer science and mathematics for female students in September 2002.
The Nairobi-based private university, which aims to bridge the gender gap in science and technology, admits 90 students annually and emphasizes practical skills and research. The university hopes to add engineering and medicine to its curriculum in the future. Fees are a relatively hefty US$1,220 per term.
— New Vision
March 18, 2003
Exam Council Accused of Corruption
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec), responsible for O- and A-level examinations since 1998, has been accused of rampant corruption in the administering of national tests.
According to the Zimbabwe Standard, leaks of examination papers have allegedly become commonplace, as has the fabrication of grades for people who never sat or performed badly in national examinations. The newspaper adds that Zimsec has become synonymous with shoddy grading and poor administration. It has been reported that grades have gone to the wrong schools, with some even receiving the results of examinations they never sat for, while the results of others went missing.
Many schools are now calling for a return of Cambridge and other foreign examination bodies. Before responsibility for testing was passed to Zimsec in 1998, Cambridge collaborated with the Ministry of Education in the provision of national exams in Zimbabwe. Doubts are now surfacing about the legitimacy of O- and A-level results and whether they will be given equivalency anywhere else in the world.
— The Zimbabwe Situation
March 3, 2003