WENR, October 2007: Africa


Cornell to Partner with Bahir Dar to Offer Graduate Degree in Agricultural Development

Cornell University [1] is set to launch a degree program in Africa – its first – in partnership with Ethiopia’s Bahir Dar University. In November, 20 students will begin a Cornell master of professional studies degree program in international agriculture and rural development, with a focus on watershed management. Faculty members from Cornell’s International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development [2] will teach intensive three-week courses in collaboration with Bahir Dar colleagues, in a bid to eventually transfer control of the degree program to the six-year-old Ethiopian university.

Bahir Dar initially approached Cornell officials, who had been in the region doing watershed work, to ask if they would cooperate in writing a proposal for a World Bank grant to fund such a program. Cornell is offering partial, though not full, tuition remission, while the World Bank grant will cover the remaining tuition for the 20 students — who were selected from a pool of 99.

Cornell, whose president, David J. Skorton, has focused attentions on Africa through the university’s “Southern Africa Initiative [3],” also recently announced that it will provide academic and technical support [4] for a new doctoral program for plant breeders at the University of Ghana [5]. Cornell faculty, in cooperation with faculty from the University of Ghana at Legon, have been involved with establishing the brand-new West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement [6], a center “intended to help provide training and resources for plant breeders from around the region so that they will develop some of the tools and skills needed to develop drought- and pest-resistant crops and improve crop productivity,” said the university’s vice provost for international relations, David Wippman. The Centre is expected to enroll 40 Ph.D. students in a program on plant breeding and genetics over the next five years, beginning in January.

Cornell News Release [7]
September 12, 2007

Brain Drain to Portugal Cause for Concern in Former Colonies

The countries of Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Sao Tomé and Príncipe – all former Portuguese colonies – are losing some of their best talent to their former Iberian masters. Hardest hit have been Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe, whose students receiving scholarships to study in Portugal rarely come home. In contrast, students from the other three African nations on scholarships through the Portuguese Institute for Development Support [8] (IPAD) return home in “reasonable” numbers according to IPAD head Manuel Correia.

Students who study in Portugal through the IPAD scholarship program are required to make a sworn declaration promising to return to their home country. In a bid to reduce the number of students staying on in Portugal, the scholarship program has now been discontinued for high school students, reduced for undergraduate degrees and expanded for graduate degrees. The idea is to reduce the length of stay in Portugal, and to encourage paid (by IPAD) internships in their country of origin for up to a year after graduation at an institution that will guarantee their salary when IPAD support ends.

Inter-Press Service News Agency [9]
September 28, 2007

Cypriot University Receives License to Open Campus

Recently approved for full university status in Cyprus, Intercollege [10] (now University of Nicosia [11] – see Cyprus item in Europe section) has reportedly secured a license to open a campus in Ethiopia. Current plans would see the university enrolling a capacity of 15,000 students.

The Reporter [12]
October 6, 2007


UK University Places up for Grabs in New Reality Show

The British Council [13] in partnership with the University of Westminster [14] and CharterHouse Ghana [15], is launching a reality show that will reward three winners with graduate scholarships at three universities in the United Kingdom.

‘The Challenge’ will put 25 applicants through a series of academic challenges to determine the three winners. The grand-prize winner will be awarded a full-ride graduate scholarship from the University of Westminster valued at £40,000 (US$80,000), fully paid accommodation in an international students’ hostel, a monthly living allowance, a return air ticket to the UK valid for one year and a brand new laptop computer. On completion of the program, the winner will return to Ghana to begin a pre-arranged job placement and enjoy a brand new car. The two runner ups will receive one-year graduate scholarships and accommodation from London Metropolitan [16] and Thames Valley Universities [17]. In addition, they will receive return air-tickets and a living allowance.

A similar show was aired in India earlier this year and the winner won a scholarship to study at Warwick University [18].

Ghanaian Chronicle [19]
October 3, 2007


Open Institute Becomes Open University

The private Institute for Open Learning (IOL) was officially inaugurated as the University of Open Learning in October. The IOL has grown enrollments dramatically in the last two years from 2,500 in 2005 to its current body of 14,000 students.

New Era [20]
October 15, 2007


Regulatory Body States that 300 University Programs in Nigeria are ‘Illegal’

Of the 2,000 university programs on offer in Nigeria, more than 300 are operating illegally, according to the head of Nigeria’s university regulatory body. Executive secretary of the National Universities Commission [21], Julius Okojie, made the statement in a senate education committee meeting in early October, adding that a majority of the “illegal” programs were being offered at private, for-profit universities.

Leadership [22]
October 1, 2007


Becoming an IT Hub

Within the next two years nearly every school in Rwanda will have a high-speed broadband internet connection, carried by fiber-optic cables. The fact that Rwanda is closing in on this goal without the help of significant mineral wealth is an achievement that Rwandan officials hope will one day elevate the country to a position were it serves as the information technology center of Africa.

“In 2000, we decided to transform the country from agricultural subsistence to a knowledge-based economy,” Albert Butare, Rwanda’s minister of state for energy and communications, told the Christian Science Monitor. With two fiber-optic rings around Kigali, and cable being laid across the country, Rwanda is well on its way to being wired. “Once we’ve reached the towns of each sector, it’s like you’ve covered the whole country. In another two years, we should be there.”

By spending US$65 million on broadband, part of a 20-year strategy to turn the country from an agricultural economy into a high-tech service economy, Rwanda hopes to tap into its single most valuable resource: its people. Rwanda’s high-tech plans are not universally applauded, however. One independent newspaper, Newsline, called the plan a misuse of public funds, while several aid groups have criticized it as an investment in the rich at the expense of the poor.

The Christian Science Monitor [23]
October 17, 2007


Top University to Revoke 200 Degrees

Makerere University [24], one of the continent’s top universities, has said that it will revoke more than 200 degrees awarded in the past four years after an internal investigation found that students had enrolled despite failing to meet admission criteria. According to The New Vision newspaper, the university senate will make the final decision on whether the degrees should be revoked.

Those under suspicion are what the university describes as “mature” students — those over 25 who do not have high school diplomas. Such applicants are required to pass a proficiency test to enter the university, and the committee found evidence that the results of those tests had been altered to allow test takers with failing scores to be admitted. Most of the affected students reportedly earned degrees in law, pharmacy, medicine, or business administration. Some of the students have already graduated and have been issued certificates and transcripts.

The New Vision [25]
September 27, 2007