WENR, January/February 2005: Africa
Mandela Fund to Support Pan-African Science and Technology Institute
Donors and education experts have launched a foundation to promote science and technology in Sub-Saharan Africa through the creation of a multi-campus university in a bid to begin the process of stemming the flow of Africa’s best minds to more affluent shores.
With seed funding of US $500 million, the Nelson Mandela Foundation for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa is to establish public/private and academically autonomous scientific centers of excellence across the region. Initial plans for the project envisage four campuses, one in each geographic region of the sub-continent, to be known collectively as the African Institute of Science and Technology. The initiative aims to promote excellence in higher education research and development particularly in areas critical to the effective development of human capacity in developing Africa’s mineral resources. It is hoped that the public-private sector initiative will help bridge the science and technology gap between Africa and the rest of the world by producing world-class scientists, engineers and business managers. Enrollments would be based on a continent-wide competitive process. In the deliberative process Indian Institutes of Technology as well as leading American institutions of excellence in science and technology have been drawn on as working models.
The foundation is also responsible for managing the Sub-Saharan African Learning Network aimed at improving resources for continuing education across the region. Nigeria and Tanzania have reportedly been selected to host centers for the west and east regions, and current plans envision enrollment beginning possibly as soon as September 2007.
The project has reportedly been receiving strong support from many African governments, and Nigerian President Olusugun Obasanjo has pledged US$100 million towards the establishment of the West African unit of the institute. Those in the African media raising doubts about the project have warned against the notion of tokenism where African leaders have in the past responded to serious problems of development with poorly planned and implemented projects (often with lavish funding from the World Bank). They warn that merely reproducing what has worked in other places, such as India’s IITs, without serious analysis to the specific needs of the regions in which the centers would be established may create a white elephant, where money may be better spent on upgrading existing research universities.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Ministry Publishes List of non-Recognized Private Institutions
The Ministry of Higher Education has made public a list of private institutions of higher education that do not meet the requirements necessary for official state recognition and licensure. The list is available HERE.
Secondary Schooling a Priority
Many students who graduated from primary school last year will not find a place at secondary school according to a recent statement by the Kenyan government.
After coming to power in 2002, the National Rainbow Coalition government introduced free primary education. As a result 657,747 pupils were awarded the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education last year, an increase of almost 12 percent from 2003, according to government figures.
Education, Science and Technology Minister George Saitoti says that more than half of those who left primary school last year cannot be accommodated at Kenya’s 4,000 public secondary schools.
It is now becoming clear that in addressing one need, officials have created another at the secondary level that will need to be matched by similar initiatives. Solutions that have so far been proposed to counter the drastic lack of space and resources include increased enrollments at existing schools where feasible, or increased non-governmental community involvement in providing facilities. A more practical solution may lie in having more pupils attend polytechnics, which teach practical skills rather than the traditional academic curriculum. The nation’s polytechnics are, however, reportedly in a poor state of repair and are held in low regard by many parents who believe that the key to a successful future lies in white-collar employment. Regardless of the solution, it seems that a great deal of investment in the secondary sector will be required to address the country’s educational needs.
Inter Press Service
Jan. 17, 2005
School Leaving Certificates Soon to be Issued and Certified Locally
Since 1995 Namibia has been using the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the Higher International General Certificate of Secondary Education (HIGCSE) curriculum, examination and certification system. On implementing the Cambridge system, the then Ministry of Education and Culture stated that a process of ‘localization’ would be progressively introduced. The process of localization would see the ministry gradually take over the functions of curriculum development, examinations and certification at the senior secondary school level.
The Ministry of Basic Education recently announced that this year’s IGCSE and HIGCSE certificates will be issued jointly by the ministry and the Cambridge examinations board. The joint certification is scheduled to continue until 2006 after which time it is expected that the Namibian examination and qualification system will be fully localized. The graduating class of 2007 therefore will be the first to take the new examinations, which will be set, graded and awarded by the Ministry of Basic Education.
Jan. 5, 2005
New Year Mergers Create New Institutions
The merging of the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa) and the University of the North (Unin) to establish a new institution known as the University of Limpopo became a reality in December 2004. Officials from the two institutions have highlighted a number of problems particular to the merger that will have to be overcome. These include communications, the great distance between the two campuses, uncertainty over future job descriptions, and poor production during the interim period.
Four other mergers were scheduled to go ahead on January 1, 2005. The University of Port Elizabeth and Port Elizabeth Technikon (including the Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University) have been merged to create the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
The University of Transkei has merged with Border Technikon and Eastern Cape Technikon and will become the Eastern Cape University of Technology, although it is still unclear if this merger has officially occurred.
Dec. 10, 2004
New Varsity Admissions Exam in Pipeline
By 2008 admission to South African institutions of higher education will be based on the results of a single entrance examination that will act as an academic benchmark for graduating high school students. The new test is designed to improve a decades-old admissions system of internal tests that have led to huge differences in entry requirements from institution to institution.
The agreement, announced in December by the South African Universities Vice-Chancellors Association, is intended to be operational by the end of 2008 – the year in which the new Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) will replace the current Senior Certificate at high schools across the country. In the interim, the new admissions test will be designed by combining the tests that individual institutions have been using as their internal selection mechanisms. The examination will focus on determining the strength of the applicant’s academic literacy and mathematics skills. The Vice-Chancellors’ Association made clear that the new test will be augmenting, but not replacing the FETC.
Mail and Guardian
Dec. 10, 2004
First African Business School to Make World’s Top 100
The MBA program at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Graduate School of Business has been rated as one of the best in the world according to the Financial Times’ Top 100 ranking of MBA programs.
This is the first time that an African school has ranked in the top 100 of the UK-based publication’s annual quality benchmark survey. The UCT program placed 82nd in the rankings, which is conducted according to a three-step methodology. The first set of criteria measures graduate employment, the second rates the school itself, and the third measures institutional research output. In addition to the top-100 finish, the school ranked seventh and eighth respectively in terms of value for money and the international experience and exposure students received while in the program.
Jan. 25, 2005