WENR, January 2008: Africa
Government to Crack Down on Colleges Offering Foreign Degrees
The Kenyan government announced in January that it is investigating colleges purporting to offer degrees on behalf of foreign universities. The move comes as a result of a deluge of complaints sent to the country’s higher education watchdog. Officials from the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) said parents had been complaining en masse about sub-standard colleges. According to Everett Standa, head of the CHE, “there are hundreds of institutions which had been licensed to offer certain programs, which had ended up rolling out different ones and we have identified them,” in an interview with Business Daily. He said a list of accredited colleges will be published in the Kenya Gazette early this year, adding that bogus ones will be closed down.
The fears come in the wake of new quality guidelines issued by the Inter-University Council of East Africa to be adopted by higher education regulators in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The guidelines, which were launched at the end of December, will be used as the criteria for awarding institutions of higher learning university status (see sidebar).
Because demand for university places in Kenya far outstrips supply, many students study abroad and a larger number settle for places at private colleges of varying quality. Last year, 63,104 of the 243,453 candidates who took the national university admissions exam qualified for university admission, but only 10,000 places were available at Kenya’s six state universities. According to Standa, the CHE has accredited at least 20 foreign institutions to offer degree programs in collaboration with Kenyan universities and colleges over the last year. However, many more are reportedly offering courses that have not been approved by the government. In October, Education Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi said out of 544 registered colleges, only 10 offered courses recognized by the Kenya National Examination Council, the only institution with the mandate to vet programs below university level.
– Business Daily
December 19, 2007
East African Council Issues New Quality Assurance Guidelines
The Inter-University Council of East Africa has issued quality guidelines to be adopted by higher education regulators in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The guidelines are to be used as the criteria for licensing and accrediting university-level institutions, ensuring that students graduate with in-demand skills for the regional economy and beyond.
The guidelines contained in a handbook – “A Road Map to Quality” – initially will be adopted by eight universities before nationwide compliance is required. The new guidelines and regional approach are designed in such a way as to promote the development of programs aligned to industry that meet international standards.
– Business Daily
Top French Business School Looks to Boost Image in Africa
A French business school has set up a scholarship scheme to help institutions in Africa. Under the African Faculty Fellowships program of the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (Insead), two academics from African business schools will be visiting scholars at the school’s campuses in France or Singapore. Insead wants to become better known in Africa and to increase the number of students from the continent enrolling in its programs.
– The Times Higher Education Supplement
January 4, 2008
Election Violence Delays New Semester
The new semester for universities in Kenya was postponed because of fears for student and faculty safety in the wake of the violence that erupted after the disputed Dec. 27 general election. The Ministry of Education accepted requests from several universities and colleges that the semester be pushed back from January 7 because of the post-election violence, which has claimed more than 300 lives. The ministry stressed that no university in the country should be opened before January 14 without the ministry’s permission.
As of January 14, just a handful of institutions opened, the remainder announcing that they would be closed indefinitely. Kenyatta University, Maseno University, Moi University, Kenya Polytechnic and all medical colleges advised students to stay home until further notice. Maseno University extended winter vacation for students and staff to April.
State Security Services to be Employed in ‘War’ on Degree Mills
Concerned about the proliferating number of unapproved universities setting up shop in the country, the National Universities Commission (NUC) is to use operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) and the police in tracking down and closing such unapproved schools.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Julius Okogie, made the announcement in January, stating that it is time to move beyond simply informing the public about unapproved institutions to actually employing a strategy that includes the use of security operatives in closing unapproved institutions.
He said, “The Commission will take its war against unapproved universities, which are springing forth from time to time within the shores of the country, by engaging the law enforcement agencies (police and SSS) in tracking and closing down such institutions.”
Lecturers without Doctorates Face Demotion
The National Universities Commission (NUC) warned in December that university lecturers who fail to earn doctorate degrees before a 2009 deadline are in jeopardy of being demoted.
Executive Secretary of the NUC, Julius Okojie, said there would be no further compromise on the issue of minimum academic qualifications for university lecturers. University teachers without doctorates could still offer instruction but at the grade of tutor, a rank that would limit their authority over academic programs to an auxiliary level.
– This Day
Government Offers 100 IT Scholarships to International Students from Sub-Saharan Region
Promoting its position as a regional hub for information and communication technologies (ICT), the Rwandan government announced recently that it is offering 100 scholarships to students from 11 countries in Eastern and Central Africa. Apart from emphasizing Rwanda’s desire to develop as an ICT hub, the scheme is designed to help standardize ICT programs in the region.
The development comes after a unanimous decision at the African Heads of State Summit in Ethiopia last January to enhance science and technology studies. Under the theme ‘Science and Technology, with the goal of stimulating African development’, the African Heads of State announced numerous scholarship schemes to increase the number of scientists on the continent.
– The New Times
Private Universities to Meet Quality Standards or Face Closure
Private universities not meeting quality standards set by the Ministry of Education will be barred from enrolling new students in the upcoming academic year, the ministry advised recently. A list of unaccredited universities has reportedly been circulated.
Quality standards at seven unaccredited universities were investigated by the National Council for Higher Education in August of last year. The universities under investigation were named as the Université Laïque Adventiste de Kigali (Unilak), Umatara Polytechnic, Kigali Institute of Management and Institute Polytechnique de Byumb, the Institute of Agriculture Technology and Education, Université Catholique de Kabgayi and Institut Supérieur de Ruhengeri. The investigation is ongoing.
A list of nine accredited universities was issued in September 2006: the National University of Rwanda, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, Kigali Health Institute, the Université Libre de Kigali, the School of Finance and Banking, Kigali Institute of Education, Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, l’Université Adventiste d’Afrique Centrale and Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Gitwe. Despite the row over accreditation, the number of students enrolling at Unilak continues to grow.
– The New Times
African University Association Signs Collaboration Deal with UK
The Association of African Universities launched “Mobilizing Regional Capacity Initiative” (MRCI) in December. The agreement with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) seeks to improve the quality of African higher education by developing partnerships with sub-regional networks of higher education institutions. DFID has committed US$7 million to the project over 3 years.
– Modern Ghana
UN ‘Education for All’ Goals Show Mixed Results Half Way to 2015 Deadline
Midway to the Millennium Development Goals, set in 2000, several West African countries have made great strides toward achieving universal education and gender parity in primary schools. But education officials and teachers’ unions say the push for increased access to education has come at a cost. Most significantly because governments are focused mainly on quantity and less so on quality. While enrollment numbers have improved, retention and graduation rates remain a serious problem and, in some cases, have even decreased. Officials in many West African countries say tens of thousands of unqualified teachers have a lot to do with it.
In Senegal, teachers’ training has been reduced from four years to six months, and in some cases, does not even exist. In the early 1990s, when the World Bank introduced structural adjustment programs in Mali, all teachers’ colleges were shut down, union and UN sources said. In many francophone West African countries some teachers barely speak French. Others are the same age as their students.
“Even if [the rate of] schooling has increased, quality hasn’t really followed,” said Nicole Bella, policy analyst for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, which released its latest report on the progress of nations on 29 November. During the push for universal education, Guinea scrambled to pump out 2,500 to 3,000 new teachers a year, said Thierno Diallo, assistant coordinator of the Education for All program at the Ministry of National Education. While the percentage of children in school doubled (from around 40 percent to 80 percent), he said the graduation rate dropped from 100 percent to 80.
Burkina Faso – rated the least developed country in the world by the 2007-08 UN Human Development Index – has seen steady increases in enrollment rates in recent years. By the 2006-07 school year, 78 percent of children were admitted to the first year of primary school, according to the government’s gross enrollment figures. But the percentage of children enrolled in all years of primary school combined drops to 61 percent. And the percentage of Burkinabé children who graduate from primary school is just 37 percent.
Governments are well aware of the problem and, in many cases, are trying to fix it. In Mali, the government is negotiating with contract workers to integrate them into the civil service. In Guinea, recruited teachers are now required to undergo three months of probation and to take a test. Many countries are offering continued training for teachers already in the system. In both Burkina Faso and Guinea, national education strategies targeted access to education in the first phase, but will now attempt to catch up on the quality aspect.
Still, according to the 2008 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, only one West African country – Benin – is projected to meet universal primary education by 2015.
– The United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks
US Institute Helps Build Genocide Studies Library in Kigali
The California Institute of the Arts has been working with the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center in Kigali, Rwanda to help stock and catalog the center’s library with hundreds of volumes on genocide, human rights, reconciliation and similar topics. All titles will be searchable through an online cataloging system provided free by Texas-based company Biblionix.
The center, which currently operates online, plans to open an office and library in Kigali in July. It would be dedicated to providing information about the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed. The library would be a key component of the studies center. An online database of information related to Africa and human rights is also being created and is available from the institute’s website.
– Los Angeles Time
January 22, 2008
International Student Numbers Continue to Grow
Twelve years after the end of sanctions and apartheid, foreign students make up more than 7 percent of all enrollments at South African public universities. Since the first post-apartheid elections in 1994, the number of international students at the nation’s 23 public universities has grown four-fold from 12,557 to 53,733 in 2006, according to figures from the national Education Department. Approximately one in four study at the graduate level or above.
Two out of three international students, some 36,000, are from the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC). Students from Zimbabwe comprise the largest cohort of internationals, with 18 percent of the total, followed by Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland – neighboring countries where English is commonly spoken.
But the biggest expansion in foreign student numbers has been from other African countries and from the rest of the world. Non SADC African student numbers nearly doubled in the five years to 2006, to 16 percent of all foreign students, or 8,569, while the number from the rest of the world swelled by more than a third, to 14 percent or 7,673.
The South African government subsidizes SADC students at the same levels as local students, and regional student mobility is being encouraged through a SADC agreement that earns students the right to pay the same fees as local students across the region. Almost one third of foreign students are enrolled in distance education programs through the University of South Africa. Among the ‘bricks and mortar’ programs, the University of Cape Town had the highest number of foreign students while Rhodes University has the highest proportion, with one in four students being foreign.
– University World News
December 9, 2007