WENR, Feb. 2006: Africa



Continent Falling Short of Education Goals

African Education Ministers met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January to evaluate the First Decade of the UNESCO [1] sponsored Education For All [2] (EFA) program. The gathered ministers estimated the number of African children currently denied school to be approximately 50 million. Some of the EFA goals outlined at the Dakar World Education Forum 2000 [3] include universally ensuring compulsory and completely free education for all of Africa’s youth by 2015 as well as expanding early childhood care and education for Africa’s most vulnerable children.

The group acknowledged a lack of commitment on the parts of their governments, poor investment in education, population growth, brain drain, and lack of skilled labor as challenges towards the achievement of EFA goals on the continent. According to South African Minister of Education Nalendi Pandoor, governments are still unable to allocate 20 percent of their budget to education. On average, African countries spend less than three percent of their GNP and only 12 percent of their budgets on education. Pandor lobbied for African Union [4] (AU) member states to allocate a minimum of 25 percent of their budget to education in order to bring much needed development to the continent.

The second decade of the EFA program (2007–2015) aims to improve upon previous goals and promote further development and regional integration in education. Africa, which currently has around three million total teachers and over 130 million students at primary schools, requires US$7 billion annual investment to deliver on their goal of universal childhood education, the AU reported.

The Daily Monitor [5]
Jan. 16, 2006

School Fees Reintroduced

The government has reintroduced tuition fees in state secondary schools after more than 20 years of free education. The measure is part of the government’s cost recovery strategy, instituted in response to increasing demand for social services and declining state revenue, according to officials from the Ministry of Education [6].

Secondary schooling in Botswana has been free since fees were abolished in 1987. Although the scrapping of school fees saw enrollment rates soar, only about half the students continued their secondary education, mainly due to the lack of space in schools. The ministry assures critics that the extra revenue will be used to construct more and better facilities. Now, students attending community secondary schools will pay US$36 a year, while those at senior secondary school will pay $84, or an estimated 5 percent of government costs per child.

Stiff resistance to the new measure has come from opposition parties and the teachers unions. A ‘means’ test to assess which parents are capable of paying fees will be developed.

BBC News [7]
Jan. 11, 2006


China Forges Education Ties with Kenya

Educational exchanges with China have brought definite benefits for the people of Kenya, and China is betting that further investment in the nation will pay similar dividends. In recent years China has granted scholarships to nearly 200 Kenyans. In Kenya, Chinese professors have been offering students classes in agriculture and Chinese language at Egerton University [8] since 1995. The Sino-Kenyan Horticultural Technology Cooperation Center is considered by many as the best of its kind in East Africa.

This past year China’s Ministry of Education [9] took steps to establish a full-fledged Chinese language institute in the country. The Confucius Institute opened its first African location in December in Nairobi. The Institute is a nonprofit center promoting Chinese culture and language education with branches at academic institutions worldwide. Similar to Spain’s Cervantes Institute [10], the program was designed by China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language [11] (NOTCFL) to advance Chinese teaching around the world.

The Kenyan institute is the result of an agreement between NOTCFL, Tianjin Normal University [12] and the University of Nairobi [13] finalized in June 2004. “Its establishment and development is valuable fruit of education exchanging programs between the two countries,” Kenyan Assistant Minister for Education Kilemi Mwiria said. The Nairobi institute is the first of 16 Africa-based Confucius Institutes approved by NOTFCL.

People’s Daily [14]
Jan. 17, 2006

Kenyan Students Looking to Uganda for University Places

Large numbers of Kenyan students are leaving their country to pursue university education in neighboring countries such as Uganda because of a severe shortage of places at home, high tuition fees and limited employment opportunities.

The Joint Admissions Board [15] (JAB), formed in 2004 as the country’s central admissions body, has been criticized by many for offering only students with a B plus or higher average one of the 10,000 openings in the public university system. A large number of candidates are being turned away by the JAB despite having attained the minimum university entry requirement, a C plus. In addition, Kenyan students can expect to pay $280 a year in school fees while only paying $125 for the same education in Uganda. With the hopes of gaining admission to a reputable institution like Makerere University [16] many students are enrolling for their A-levels in Uganda upon completing their O-levels in Kenya. “Jobs are scarce in Kenya. Few available opportunities are reserved for the most learned,” says Maserme Machuka, a Kenyan journalism student studying in Uganda.

The Nation
Jan. 19, 2006

Makerere Programs to Begin at Kenyan Institute

The Regional Institute of Business Management based in Nairobi will begin offering classes from Uganda’s Makerere University [16] this year.

Positions for Kenyan students at Makerere are highly sought after as the university reserves only 10 percent of its places for international students. The institute will offer five programs including business management, library and information science, community psychology, mass communications and law. While classes will be held in Kenya, all of the grading and approval of lectures will be done from Makerere. Undergraduate courses within the new program will only be offered to advanced level certificate holders.

The New Vision
Jan. 3, 2006

National Polytechnics Given Green Light to Award Degrees

The Kenyan Commission of Higher Education [17] (CHE) has approved changes that will enable national polytechnic institutes and middle level colleges to award degrees as opposed to diplomas without changing their status. In addition, CHE Secretary Professor Crispus Kiamba announced that all universities public and private would be evaluated to ensure the quality of the nation’s education system.

“The commission has dealt with private universities. Our mandate now will be extended to our public universities. Assurance and quality are fundamental to the strength, effectiveness, and competitiveness of higher education in the country,” he said. Early this year the commission closed U.S. based Newport International University [18] for offering degree programs without accreditation from the commission.

The East African Standard [19]
Dec. 20, 2005


NUC De-accredits Universities, Law Schools in System-Wide Review

The National Universities Commission [20] (NUC) has denied the accreditation of 102 programs at 26 Nigerian universities as well as the accreditation of five of the nation’s law programs.

In 2005 the NUC evaluated 1,343 courses at 48 universities with a team of approximately 520 evaluators. Out of 25 federal, 20 state, and three private institutions evaluated, the NUC cited 102 courses that failed to meet the prescribed minimum organization standards in terms of study ambience, teaching aid, and quality of lecturers. The number of de-accredited courses is up 64 from the 38 indicted by the same evaluation the previous year. Universities will have a two-year interim period to remedy the cited deficiencies before reevaluation. In reference to the affected courses, the commission offered the institutions various options for addressing the rejected courses over the two-year interim. These include permanent closure of the course of study, phased remediation and reaccredidation, and permanent closure of some courses with selective remediation of others.

The NUC also nullified the accreditation of five national law programs including the University of Nigeria Nsukka [21], Ibadan University [22], and Obafemi Awolowo University [23] (OAU). The commission’s executive secretary Professor Peter Okebukola said the institutions, “shall immediately cease to admit students to the affected programs.” The National Council on Legal Education had recently awarded OAU an A plus grade for having the best law faculty in the country.

This Day
Jan. 17, 2006

NUC to License Three Private Universities

The National Universities Commission [20] will license three private universities before the end of 2006, bringing the total number of private institutions in Nigeria to 26. The NUC has licensed many private universities in recent years in an effort to reduce the burden on overcrowded public universities that cannot come close to meeting the current demand for university places in Nigeria. Along with the three private universities, the College of Gas and Petroleum Engineering of the University of Benin [24] PTI Campus, in Delta State has gained final approval and will formally open its doors this year.

This Day
Jan. 24, 2006


1,400 to Graduate from Kigali Independent University

Kigali Independent University [25] (ULK) will finally graduate 1,482 students who have waited over a year for their diplomas. The graduating students completed their studies in the academic year of 2003/04 in ULK’s four faculties of economics, law, management and social sciences.

The graduation was originally delayed due to the Rwandan Ministry of Education’s [26] failure to recognize the university’s Faculty of Social Sciences. On December 14, 2005 the Ministry’s cabinet passed a resolution accepting that the faculty had achieved the necessary requirements to allow their 800 students to graduate. ULK first began operations in 1996.

The Daily Monitor [5]
Jan. 10, 2006


Distance Learning Initiative Launched

Six Somali institutions of higher education have begun offering learning opportunities via the Internet with the aid of the World Bank, the United Nations and the Nairobi-based African Virtual University [27] (AVU).

Students are taught interactively through learning materials developed by AVU, while ancillary materials, such as audio and videotapes, are being supplied to students by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Somalia is currently lacking an adequate supply of qualified tertiary-level instructors owing to years of conflict. Distance learning is therefore considered a crucial and affordable alternative to traditional bricks and mortar options, currently in short supply.

The six Somali institutions involved are the University of Hargeisa, Puntland State University [28], Mogadishu [29], The University of East Africa in Puntland, Amoud University [30] in Somaliland and the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development [31]. These institutions offer certificate courses in journalism, information technology and business communications, and plan to offer full degree courses in the same fields, as well as teaching, next year.

Voice of America [32]
Nov. 30, 2005

South Africa

Upper Secondary Curriculum and University Entry Requirements Reformed

Grade ten students entering upper secondary school this year face a new and untested curriculum and revamped university entry requirements. Referred to as the Further Education and Training Band, the new grade 10-12 curriculum will require students to take seven instead of six subjects, four of which are compulsory: mathematical literacy, life orientation, the pupil’s mother tongue, and another language. The grading system has also been changed and now students will have to score a minimum 30 percent pass mark in all classes and there will be no higher or standard grade. A, B, C, E, F, and G grades are to be eliminated and replaced by a grading scale from 1 to 7 (outstanding achievement) which will correspond to a percentage (80-100% = ‘7’ and 0-29% = ‘1’).

New higher education entry requirements will require students applying to degree-level programs to have a National Senior Certificate with an achievement rating of at least 50 percent in four approved degree subjects. For diploma programs, a National Senior Certificate with a minimum score of 40% in four subjects will be required.

Considered by some as a change that was long overdue, other educators are leery about the transition to the new curriculum and the preparedness of some schools to offer the new subjects Some teachers have complained of poor teacher training on the new courses and delays in the distribution of the necessary learning materials.

The Mail and Guardian [33]
Dec. 5, 2005
Cape Argus [34]
Jan. 11, 2006


Higher Education in Uganda, a Valued yet Increasingly Unavailable Commodity

Statistics show that more and more Ugandans are trying to attain a higher education, but that the prospect is becoming more daunting as tuition rises and enrollments in the country’s private and public institutions swell. According to a recent study published by the Ministry of Education [35], the steady increase of demand has exceeded the growth capacity of the nation’s current institutions.

The Sector Annual Performance Report 2005 [36] found that enrollment in higher education grew 20 percent between 2003 and 2004 from 83,330 (65,938 university and 23,118 other tertiary institutions) students to 108,295 (67,212 and 40,357). The number of tertiary institutions alone rose from two in 1970 to 127 in 2004. Whereas average population per institution has increased over time, public expenditure on education and specifically higher education has been on a steady decline, creating a fragile situation.

The government paid the tuition costs for students at national universities until 1999 when schools like Makerere University [16] began to charge tuition in order to cope with decreasing financial assistance from the state. Since then, tuition has risen steadily causing a spike in dropout rates and drawing vehement opposition from both students and the government. The Uganda National Examination Board results for this year show an increase of 2,358 in the number of students eligible for tertiary and university education. Tertiary institutions across the country are trying to reconcile the increasing cost of providing higher education and the low-income levels of many Ugandans. The Ministry of Education is recommending a restructuring of the way higher education institutions are funded and the implementation of a student loan program.

The Daily Monitor [5]
Jan. 9, 2006

High Education Export Earnings

A survey carried out between 2003 and September 2005 has revealed that Uganda earns US$30.7m from education exports every year. The Private Sector Uganda [37] and the Uganda Service Exporters’ Association [38] (USEA) conducted the survey which found that foreign students at the secondary level of education spend $23.7m annually while those attending the nation’s universities brought in $6.6m for the country. Uganda is ranked number one in education export within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. The majority of international students were attracted from neighboring countries such as Kenya.

The New Vision [39]
Dec. 20, 2005


Chinese Mandatory for University Students

Zimbabwean universities have made public their plans to require students to learn to speak and write Chinese. Part of President Robert Mugabe’s [40] “Look East Policy,” the requirement will take effect at institutions of higher learning later this year. According to Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge there is a “compelling need” to bring the peoples of China and Zimbabwe together to promote tourism and trade.

The announcement has been met by criticism among students.” It seems they are trying every political gimmick to lure the Chinese into this country to bankroll their bankrupt regime,” Washington Katema, president of the Zimbabwe National Association of Student Unions, said. Mugabe introduced his “Look East Policy” after his country was put under trade sanctions by a number of Western nations due to alleged human rights abuses, while his administration has, in recent years, been courted by the Chinese.

Cape Argus [34]
Jan. 26, 2006