WENR, Apr. 2006: Africa
AU Head Criticizes Developed Nations on Issue of Brain Drain
President of the African Union, Alpha Oumar Konare, criticized the immigration policies of developed nations this month, asserting that their selective immigration policies constitute a “brain trade” that hinders African development. Speaking in early April at the opening of an African Union meeting in Algiers, Algeria, on migration and development, Konare said that developed nations preach cooperation in terms of development with Africa, yet loot the best skilled workers and academics from the continent and in effect deprive Africa its right to progress. Algerian foreign minister Mohammed Bedjaoui agreed with Konare, citing the 23,000 university graduates that leave Africa every year as “a cause rather than a consequence of under-development.”
The British government last year enacted an initiative to recruit more scientists from developing nations, but rejected the accusation that their policies fueled a brain drain. A Swedish academic at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Robert Egnell, refuted the argument of the African officials and opined that while certain immigration policies in developed nations encourage educated Africans to emigrate, it is a lack of opportunity that fuels the migration of African scholars. Egnell also mentioned that remittances sent home from skilled Africans abroad were a factor that influences economic development.
— SciDev Net
Three Institutions Share Resources, Knowledge
Private institutions Ecole Supérieure de Gestion (ESG) and Institut Siantou Supérieure have signed an agreement with the public University of Buea to share programs, facilities and staff.
According to ESG Director General Louis Marie Djambou, the partnership will improve pedagogy, lecture quality, and the value of the degrees offered at all three institutions. Djambou is also excited by the prospect of the French education model being enhanced as it meshes with the University of Buea’s use of the English credential system. The two francophone institutes will offer vocational diplomas such as the Higher National Diploma through the arrangement with Buea.
As of now, University of Buea does not endorse the certificates offered by its new partners, and will offer its own degrees through the agreement until the Ministry of Education evaluates the joint program.
— The Post Online
Feb. 14, 2006
University Reopens in Rebel North
The University of Bouake, in the rebel-held north of Cote d’Ivoire, reopened its doors last month after three years of civil war forced it to shut down in 2002. Many students hoping for a chance at higher education and a return to normalcy attended the official reopening. The university first attempted to reopen in April 2005 and hundreds of students paid their fees upfront, but a power struggle within the transitional government’s Ministry of Higher Education deterred classes from ever starting.
At the height of its operation, the University of Bouake enrolled 13,000 students. To date 1,100 students of an estimated 4,000 still living in Bouake have already enrolled for the new semester. The number of administrators and professors that have returned to their former posts is still unclear.
— UN IRIN
Mar. 31, 2006
University Introduces Admissions Quotas to Maintain Quality
The University of Ghana announced this month that it will decrease the number of students it accepts each year, with the goal of instilling discipline in the student body and monitoring classroom attendance. The change in policy comes as a result of recommendations made by the Mfodwo Committee, a group set up by the University Council to investigate examination malpractices at the university. Based on the findings of the committee, four staff members and seventeen students will receive punishment due to misconduct surrounding examinations and grading practices.
The committee also recommended that the university review all of its academic programs to assess their quality, relevance, and contribution to the development of excellence at the University of Ghana. Dr. Ishmael Yamson, Chairman of the University Council, is confident that the measures being taken will improve the university, commenting that an overpopulated student body “was not good for the students, lecturers, and the country and something needed to be done.”
— Ghana Web
Apr. 3, 2006
Kenya Tops in Sending Students to the U.S,
The American Educational Advising Center in Kenya reports that the East African nation sends around 7,000 students to United States’ colleges and universities each year, making it the largest exporter of students to the United States on the African continent. The center in Nairobi works in conjunction with members of the U.S. Embassy to organize conferences that promote study abroad in the United States and advise students on how to prepare for enrollment in an American institution.
— The Nation
Mar. 27, 2006
Makerere’s Kenya Course Offerings in Limbo
Uganda’s Makerere University plans to offer degrees in collaboration with Nairobi’s Regional Institute of Business Management have been put on hold in lieu of a Commission for Higher Education (CHE) evaluation of the proposed joint venture.
CHE secretary, Professor Crispus Kiamba, said that the public had been misinformed by prior reports that the Makerere/Regional Institute of Business Management collaboration had been given the go-ahead by the commission to begin offering classes. A panel has been set up by the CHE to evaluate the two institutions’ proposal and the quality of courses that will be created by the affiliation. The linkage of the two institutions must comply with the diploma validation requirements passed as legislation last year. Since last summer, 70 Kenyan colleges have either been validated or are currently in the process of evaluation.
— The Nation
Mar. 8, 2006
Diploma Students Deceived by Illegal Institute
The eight students taking Ol’lessos Technical Institute’s medical laboratory technology diploma coursework have been cheated out of years of study and tuition. After paying the equivalent of US$1,100 and two years of study, the students were expelled from their training attachment at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital after questions were raised about the legality of their institution’s program. Ol’lessos Technical Institute is not certified by the Kenya Medical Board or the Kenya National Examinations Council to train students in the aforementioned field of study.
— The Nation
Feb. 8, 2006
Mobility Between Institutions a Priority
Kenya’s Commission for Higher Education is currently working on a system that will make it possible for university students to transfer from one academic institution to another without interrupting their academic program. A new government instated accreditation system will allow students to transfer university credits without penalty and enter university systems at a level commensurate with their achievement. The commission is evaluating the compatibility of classes at the nation’s various universities in order to implement the new system as soon as possible. Education Secretary Karega Mutahi said the development of increased student mobility will improve competition within Kenyan university education and make it accessible to a larger number of students.
— The Nation
Mar. 19, 2006
Poor Exam Scores Raise Questions About Education System
The exceptionally poor performances of secondary school students on recent grade 12 graduation exams have many Namibians calling upon the government to enact major education reforms. According to numbers from the Directorate of National Examinations, 13,850 students participated in the final school examination, yet only 2,840 posted scores high enough to qualify for admittance to the University of Namibia or the nation’s polytechnic university.
Members of the Namibia National Students Organization and Namibia’s Institute for Public Policy and Research attributed the abysmal performance on the test to poor primary education throughout the country. Especially in rural areas, the lack of skilled primary teachers, inadequate classroom space, and a growing student population threaten to prolong the problem of ill-prepared students reaching secondary education. Only 24 percent of Namibian students passed the English portion of the school-leaving exam, despite the fact that English became the nation’s official language in 1990.
Observers are calling on the government to make real reforms that address rural education, the improvement of English-language standards, and an effort to evaluate whether or not students are advancing through primary education with the correct skills to prepare them for secondary education and beyond. Namibia generally spends one-third of its federal budget on education.
— UN IRIN
Feb. 10, 2006
University Warns Against Fraudulent Degrees
The University of Calabar (UNICAL) is warning Nigerian students about fraudulent institutions around the country that are claiming to be satellites of the university and are offering false degrees. The falsified degrees and certificates are being distributed by phony campuses that are supposedly operated by UNICAL’s own Institute of Education. University Vice Chancellor, Bassey Okon Asuqui, cited illegal campuses in Minna, Mokwa, Kontagora, Bida, Suleja, Port Harcourt, Yenogoa, Omok, Ughelli, Owerri, and Ibadan. UNICAL will not honor degrees or certificates obtained at these sites and will do an internal investigation to assure quality education in the future.
— Daily Trust
Mar. 15, 2006
U.S. Grant Provides for the Improvement of University Libraries
An American institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I), has received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to support professional training and assistance in the development of media technology at four Nigerian universities. Ahmadu Bello University, Bayero University, University of Ibadan, and the University of Port Harcourt will all receive support in the form of outreach services that assist university libraries in publicizing newly acquired electronic resources and training users how to utilize this information from U of I’s Mortensen Center for International Library Programs.
The grant will provide funds for the improvement of insufficient bandwidth within electronic resources at Nigerian institutions as well as provide money to send librarians to the United States to participate in resource management workshops. The goal of the program is to strengthen university libraries in Nigeria so that they can aid in the creation of research universities.
— News Bureau UIUC
Feb. 6, 2006
Canadian University Supports Rwandan Higher Education
The University of Western Ontario has pledged resources to help institutions of higher education in Rwanda improve research and promote the importance of science and technology in the country. Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, met with university president Paul Davenport to discuss the agreement and the future of a science and technology based educational system in the African nation. Davenport also met with local university officials and the State Minister of Education to discuss possible ways in which the University of Western Ontario could help support research that would improve the county’s communication, information technology, and energy sectors.
Western Ontario already has ties with the Kigali Health Institute where Rwandans train in medicine and medical research related fields. The university will help Kigali plan and introduce a new curriculum to be disseminated through e-learning and with a focus on HIV-AIDS training.
— The New Times
Feb. 23, 2006
Universities Concentrate Focus, Emulate Foreign Counterparts
The University of the Free State is one of a number of South African universities taking steps to enhance their reputation as global centers of research. The universities of Stellenbosch, Witwatersrand, Cape Town, and KwaZulu-Natal are all embarking on structural reorganization strategies that would narrow the scope of study at their respective institutions, thus fostering expertise in specific disciplines.
The University of the Free State plans to concentrate their academic programs around issues of societal progress and various aspects of modern development with specialization in the fields of economics, health, literacy, new technologies, water resources, and food production. University Rector Frederick Fourie says the move reflects trends at the top international universities worldwide. Institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are “clustering” their fields of research on a large scale due to the impossibility of specializing in all of the complex and diverse areas of research in today’s university. An increase in specialization is also desirable to universities who are able to market their findings in areas such as pharmaceutical research and technological innovation.
Free State hopes that their new clustered organization will promote multidisciplinary study and attract top researchers and funding from all over the globe. South African President, Thabo Mbeki, recently announced the allocation of more research dollars to the nation’s higher education centers for development and innovation.
— Business Day
Feb. 10, 2006
Government Announces Record Number of Loans for University Students
South Africa’s government has responded to accusations of corruption and ineptitude in its higher education system by offering an unprecedented US$420 million in loans for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The National Financial Aid Scheme provided 110,000 students with loans worth $210 million last year. This year, foundations, government offices and private companies matched the Department of Education’s contribution to create the exceptionally large loan fund. The loans are managed by South Africa’s 23 universities and are repaid through employers once graduates acquire gainful employment. The demographics at the country’s universities have changed dramatically as a result of the student loan program. A total of 730,000, or two thirds of all university students are now black.
— The Times Higher Education Supplement
Feb. 16, 2006
Government Establishes Quality Assurance Agency
The Zimbabwean Parliament has passed the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education Act, establishing the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education.
Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said the new law will improve the quality of Zimbabwe’s higher education as well as keep the country on track as far as national educational development, scientific research, and international development. In addition to advising the Minister of Higher Education on all policy issues, the new council will participate in the recommendation process for the establishment of new institutions, design a quality assurance program for higher education, and evaluate the performance of the country’s universities and colleges. The council will also accredit institutions and promote international cooperation between Zimbabwe’s universities and potential international partners.
— The Herald
Feb. 18, 2006
Teachers Fleeing in the Face of Poor Conditions
Political strife, social upheaval, and economic stagnation are all contributing to a mass exodus of Zimbabwe’s educators. The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) reports that 5,000 teachers exited their jobs in 2005 and numbers for the beginning of 2006 project even larger numbers quitting their posts this year.
Factors described as contributing to the crisis within the teaching profession include the hyperinflation of the county’s currency (900 percent), salaries below the poverty line ($71 monthly), and a new national labor law that prevents civil servants from forming unions or engaging in collective bargaining. Zimbabwe’s negative rate of industrial growth and consequent 80 percent unemployment rate has also meant that many out of work citizens have resorted to teaching and driven down the standard of teaching at the nation’s schools.
As recently as 2000, primary school enrollment in Zimbabwe stood at 93 percent. Today that figure has plummeted to below 50 percent.
— Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Mar. 6, 2006