WENR, November/December 2007: Africa
Botswana, South Africa Agree to Cooperate in Quality Assurance
The Tertiary Education Council (TEC) of Botswana has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Council for Higher Education (CHE) of South Africa that would ease cross-border academic mobility between the two countries. The agreement comes as part of a broader effort to align education systems and standards in the region under the umbrella of the Southern African Development Community’s Protocol on Education and Training (SADC). Although the development of a SADC Quality Assurance Framework has been slow, institutions have been undertaking regional co-operation agreements. An example cited by officials at the signing ceremony of the MoU is that of the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) formed in 2005.
For the time being the Botswana, South Africa MoU largely formalizes recent information sharing initiatives between the respective national quality assurance agencies, which staff from the TEC and CHE have been conducting since 2004. The TEC has a similar cooperation agreement with the Namibian Qualifications Authority.
October 11, 2007
Gambian, British University Launch Graduate Program
Britain’s Leeds Metropolitan University, in collaboration with the University of The Gambia (UTG) launched a master’s program in Public Health and Environment in October. The program has an initial enrollment of 28 students, three of whom hail from Sierra Leone.
– The Daily Observer
October 18, 2007
U.S. AID Looking to Encourage Partnerships between US Universities and those in Developing World
The U.S. Agency for International Development is organizing a summit in February that will bring together leaders from higher education in the developing world and the United States, in a bid to build stronger partnerships between the two groups. The plans for the conference were announced in November by Henrietta H. Fore, the agency’s acting administrator at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
Political and financial circumstances, Ms. Fore said, present an unusual opportunity to more effectively link higher education in America and developing countries. The flow of American private capital to the poorer regions of the world has tripled in the last three years, she said, giving American investors a large stake in the success of higher education in those regions. She added that she would like to see more collaborations between American institutions and those in developing countries that would meet the needs of those nations, instead of partnerships that are driven by the interests of American institutions and their faculty members. In particular, she said, she would like to see joint research projects; exchanges of students, administrators, and faculty members; and specific curriculum improvements that would help emerging nations meet their educational needs.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 13, 2007
Nation’s First Liberal Arts College Celebrates Five Years
With a mission of spreading the liberal arts tradition across Africa, and thereby developing critical thinking, effective communication skills, practical experience and a generation of moral decision-makers on the continent, Ashesi University recently celebrated its fifth anniversary.
University leaders have developed its core liberal arts curriculum with the help of faculty at Swarthmore College and the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Washington. The university’s enrollment has increased from 30 students in 2002 to approximately 400 today and plans are in place for a permanent campus north of the capital Accra. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed in October , university president, Patrick Awuah, talked about the next steps for Ashesi and the role that liberal arts education can play in accelerating Africa’s development. Here are some of the highlights:
“Ashesi is about educating a new generation of leaders in Africa who think ethically and who are problem solvers and have the ability and the desire to confront problems on the continent.”
“What we’re doing at Ashesi is trying to set this example that we hope others will follow, where the process of education should be about asking the right questions and looking at issues from multiple perspectives and thinking critically and thinking analytically, both qualitatively and quantitatively.”
“We hope to educate leaders who have a very high sense of integrity and empathy for their society and who also have a strong skill set in terms of conflict and problem solving skills that can be put to bear in their society in Africa…We also hope that Ashesi sets an example for other institutions to follow so that there’ll be an even bigger effect as other institutions pay more attention to educating people to think critically and ethically, that we then start to have a much broader impact on the continent…In Ghana and in a lot of Sub-Saharan African countries, very few people get to go to university, to college. And these people end up being the leaders in our society, not just political leaders, but the people who are running important institutions in our society — the engineers and the lawyers and the doctors and the policemen and the military officers and so on. We need to educate them in a way that they care about this society. I call it the “project of enlightenment.” That’s what education is about.”
– Inside Higher Ed
October 19, 2007
Crackdown on Academic Fraud Making Strides
In a government-inspired crackdown on academic fraud, professors have for the first time ever in Guinea been suspended on charges of corruption, and students have been fined or jailed for cheating in exams. Educators have introduced tough new measures to combat cheating and corruption in the allocation of diplomas and university places. Common practices such as the buying of cheat sheets, accessing tips by mobile phone or having a friend take a test were reportedly much harder to achieve this year, and many students wrote frantic notes to the education minister on their test papers, or simply left them blank.
This has all come as a result of measures introduced by new Education Minister Ousmane Souaré who told the United Nation’s Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) that he is taking aim at a system in which cheating and corruption have been seen as the only route to advancement. Since he took office the country has engaged in an exceptionally open debate on the scope of the problem and how to tackle it, students and observers told IRIN. Souaré is part of the new government of Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté, which came to power in March after unprecedented citizen uprisings denouncing bad governance.
Simple measures have produced impressive results. At exam time this year only those taking tests, monitors and authorized officials were allowed into the testing areas, while mobile phones were banned for the first time. Observers say more and more Guineans are realizing that corruption in education is self-defeating. The superintendent at Conakry’s Lycée Donka, Cheick Ahmed Tidiane N’diaye, said the country needs to fight a system that renders Guinean diplomas meaningless. “In the job market here, people are pleased to say: ‘I’ve hired this or that foreigner’ – a Senegalese, a Ghanaian – rather than a Guinean. We want to fight this.” Students, teachers and analysts alike say it will take years to root out corruption but that recent changes represent a real shift.
– UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
November 21, 2007
Campus of the African Institute of Science and Technology Approved
The Nigerian government in October approved the establishment of two new private universities in the capital Abuja and Owo in Oyo State. Achina University is being sponsored by an investment company, while the not-for-profit African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST), a continental, multi-campus initiative chaired by Nelson Mandela has been granted land by the Nigerian government 10 miles out of Abuja in the Abuja Technology Village. The Abuja campus of AIST will focus on the sciences and will be the first in network of four campuses to span the African continent.
– Sunday Isuwa
October 25, 2007
New Curriculum Launched
The Nigerian government in November launched a new curriculum known as the new basic education curriculum for primary and junior secondary schools. The new curriculum places greater emphasis on science and technology, and information communication technology, in particular.
– Daily Trust
November 9, 2007
English Gaining Traction over French as Language of Education
Formerly a Belgian colony, French has been the official language of Rwanda since the days of colonialism. Since the 1994 Anglophone ethnic-Tutsi rebel movement swept into power, English has increasingly become the preferred language of communication in academic settings.
Today, on the campus of the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), which was designed in 1997 to be an African version of MIT, a new generation of scientists, engineers and technical minds are attempting to help Rwanda become the Singapore of Africa, and English is their language of instruction.
Combined with Rwanda’s November 2006 decision to cut relations with France, the transformation of Rwanda into an English-speaking country is already creating political and economic ripples throughout the region. Since the early 1990s, and particularly after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, many French-speaking Africans have begun to see their relationship with Paris as more burden than boon.
Although most Francophone countries still maintain strong trade, educational and linguistic ties with France, in Rwanda all of that is changing. The Franco-Rwandaise Cultural Society has been closed, along with the French international school, the French embassy, and many of the offices of French multinational companies. For language study, Rwandans are turning to a growing industry of English-language academies, and for the plum university posts, they turn to English-language colleges like KIST.
The real driving force for Rwanda’s preference for English is more economic than political, KIST rector, Chrysologue Karangwa, told the Christian Science Monitor. With a rapidly increasing number of foreign investors (most from anglophone countries) coming to Rwanda, and with Rwanda joining the East African Community trade bloc, Rwanda can benefit from closer ties with its English-speaking neighbors while maintaining ties with French-speaking ones like Burundi and Congo.
– The Christian Science Monitor
September 25, 2007
20% Enrollment of 18-25 Year-Olds by 2015
The South African government has set a target of enrolling 20 percent of its college-age population by 2015. In order to meet this goal, Education Minister Naledi Pandor told a meeting of the Higher Education Working Group, chaired by President Thabo Mbeki, in November that the system would have to take on more than 100,000 extra students between 2010 and 2015. According to the minister, the South African tertiary system does not currently have the capacity to enroll that number of students and would need to create new institutions to do so. Currently there are 740,000 students enrolled at tertiary institutions and a targeted 820,000 by 2010.
– Bua News
November 28, 2007
College Upgraded to Become Nation’s Third University
Under presidential decree, the National College for Management and Development Studies in Kabwe has been upgraded to become Zambia’s third public university. The new university will be known as Mulungushi University. In related news, Copperbelt University, which was closed on July 26 following student unrest, reopened on October 28.
– The Times of Zambia
17 October 2007
Government Tackles ‘Brain Drain’
Zambia is to launch an initiative in 2008 aimed at reducing its scientific ‘brain drain,’ according to a parliamentary report presented on November 16 by the Ministry of Education. The four-step plan places an emphasis on reintroducing retention allowances for academic staff — particularly at the country’s public universities. The report also states that the government has increased grants for academic research. These will fund the publication of journals at the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University for the first time.
Other measures include the reintroduction of a home-ownership scheme — giving academic staff a loan for home buying dependent on their salary, repayable over five years — and adjustment of salaries to make them competitive with other scientists in the sub-region. In November 2006, after a series of strikes by researchers and lecturers in public institutions, the then minister of science and technology, Brian Chituwo, promised to tackle scientific brain drain and rehabilitate research infrastructure in the next five years.
November 26, 2007