WENR, August 2005: Africa
G8 Leaders Pay Lip Service to Science, Technology
Following the conclusions of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa (see March/April 2005 issue of WENR), which argues that specific action to strengthen science, engineering and technology capacity is “an imperative for Africa,” a report drawn from the recent G8 meeting in Scotland is a disappointment.
At that summit, leaders of the world’s most industrialized nations backed the development of “centers of excellence” within science and technology institutions in Africa – but they declined to endorse specific objectives or offer precise amounts of money to be spent in these areas. The G8 leaders’ support, however, does represent a big shift in aid policy from the current focus on primary education.
Blair’s commission report, which was presented at the Scotland summit, recommended that the international community provide up to US$3 billion over 10 years to develop centers of excellence in science and technology, including African Institutes of Technology (see January/February 2005 issue of WENR). The commission hopes these centers will encourage African universities, originally created to train civil servants, to develop programs designed to stimulate economic growth and innovation in research.
The Network of African Science Academies predicts ambitions for Africa “will fail” unless science, technology and innovation are integral to development plans across the continent. An important aspect of the G8’s conclusions does promise, however, to build on the programs established by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. It is hoped this policy will ensure the content of African development programs is determined by the continent’s own governments.
— Science and Development Network
Ministry Names Recognized Universities
The Angolan Ministry of Education recently informed all students applying for university places in 2005-06 that there are only seven (two public, five private) government-recognized institutions in the country. It also warned prospective students from enrolling at private institutions not recognized by the government.
Agostinho Neto University and the Institute of International Relations are the two public institutions authorized to offer university degrees; the private recognized institutions are: Universidade Católica de Angola, Universidade Lusíada de Angola, Universidade Independente de Angola, Universidade Jean Piaget de Angola and the Instituto Superior Privado de Angola.
— Angola Press Agency
April 1, 2005
Ministry Issues List of Recognized Private Universities
An announcement on the Web site of the Ministry of Education, dated January 26 2005, lists 12 private institutions that have been officially licensed in Cameroon.
The 12 institutions recognized by the ministry are: l’Institut Catholique de Yaoundé, BTS Professeurs Réunis, Douala; Ecole Supérieure de Gestion, Douala; Ecole Supérieure des Sciences et Techniques, Douala; Fonab Polytechnic, Bamenda; Groupe Tankou Enseignement Supérieur, Bafoussam; Institut Samba Supérieur, Yaoundé; Institut Siantou Supérieur, Yaoundé; Institut Supérieur de Management, Douala; Institut Supérieur de Technologie et du Design Industriel, Douala; National Polytechnic Banmbui, Bamenda; Université Adventiste Cosendai, Nanga-Eboko.
Of these institutions only l’Institut Catholique de Yaoundé has been granted the power to award national diplomas. The 11 other institutions have been authorized to prepare students for examinations leading to the award of national diplomas by the Ministry of Higher Education. The ministry announcement lists the specific disciplines and specializations in which the 11 institutions may offer courses.
The ministry also warns it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the institution and program in which he/she is enrolled is approved by the ministry. The full list of recognized programs is available here: http://www.minesup.gov.cm/fra/Communiques/
— Ministry of Education
January 26, 2005
Luring Brains Back Home
Apartheid deprived a majority of South Africans the opportunity of high-quality tertiary education, leaving the country with a shortage of skills. The situation has been exacerbated by the departure of many of the country’s most highly qualified workers. Between 1989 and 1992, 70,000 South Africans are thought to have left the country. In post-apartheid South Africa this number has ballooned. Between 1998 and 2001, for example, 166,000 South Africans departed for foreign shores. It is estimated that 1.4 million South Africans live and work in the United Kingdom alone, while approximately half of all South Africans living in developed nations have higher-education credentials.
Award Winning E-School Initiative Launched
On July 18 the first e-school in Africa under the initiative of the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) was launched at Bugulumbya School in Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni. The Uganda launch was quickly followed by the July 23 opening of Kenya’s first e-schools.
Launched in 2003 at the African Economic Summit in Durban, the e-school program aims to provide computers and Internet access to all schools in Africa within 10 years, and also to set up ‘health points’ to tie in with Nepad’s e-health program. A consortium of companies led by Hewlett Packard equipped Bugulumbya School in collaboration with the Ugandan government. A demonstration project involving various private companies is planned to take place over the next 12-18 months in 16 countries including: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda.
The e-schools initiative also involves the establishment of an Africa-wide satellite network that will connect the schools to the Internet as well as to points within each country from which educational content will be fed to the schools on a continuous basis. It also involves ICT training of teachers and students, content and curriculum development, and community involvement and participation. Nepad’s e-school initiative was recently recognized by the Intelligent Community Forum conference at which it was presented with the Global Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year 2005 award.
— The Monitor
South Africa is of course not alone: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) believes that the African continent hosts the world’s most mobile population. Any number of adverse conditions cause citizens in countries across the continent to seek temporary to permanent opportunities elsewhere in the world, more often than not in the rich countries of Europe and North America. Those who flee are disproportionately skilled and are lured by better opportunities; this is especially so for those with medical qualifications (see May/June issue of WENR). The IOM says that more Ethiopian doctors are practicing in Chicago alone than in Ethiopia.
This phenomenon has prompted a call to arms. Several organizations are now devising plans to encourage émigrés to return and fill skills shortages at home. South African groups such as the South African Network of Skills Abroad and the Homecoming Revolution have been particularly innovative in this respect.
While highlighting the effects of the so-called brain drain, The Economist also notes that “regional powerhouses” such as South Africa are attracting a large number of students and workers (both skilled and non-skilled) from other African nations. The number of foreign students in South African universities is thought to have grown from 12,600 in 1994 to 35,000 in 2001. As The Economist notes, however, a truly effective reversal of the continent’s brain drain is still an uphill task.
— The Economist
August 11, 2005
Lupane University to Open
Lupane State University will admit its inaugural class to the faculty of agricultural sciences when it commences operations at the end of August. Until the construction of the new campus is complete, the university will operate from the National University of Science and Technology. Long-term plans for the university include the establishment of programs in environmental sciences, wildlife management, forestry and engineering.
— The Herald
July 6, 2005