WENR, September 2008: Africa
Up to 83% of 15-35 Year Olds Want to Emigrate
With a severe lack of job opportunities at home, a huge number of students have left Cameroon in recent years to pursue higher studies abroad. According to a 2007 study by the non-governmental organization Association for the Fight against Illegal Immigration, as many as 83 percent of 15-35 year olds said they planned to leave the country, and unlike in the past, few feel compelled to return.
Most of these students travel to Europe and North Africa. In France alone the number of students from Cameroon increased by 40 percent in the past eight years, according to Jacques Nkene, professor of international relations at Yaoundé II University.Some 42 percent of Cameroonian immigrants identified in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries were considered to be “highly qualified.” This compares to just 23 percent of Senegalese emigrants in a 2004 study, which reveals the depth of the brain drain, and subsequent impact on public services in Cameroon.
– UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 19, 2008
Newly Introduced Free Secondary Schooling Policy Faces Stiff Implementation Test
Kenya’s government introduced free primary schooling in 2003, and almost overnight there was a huge increase in the number of pupils attending primary schools across the East African nation, creating many problems and a steep learning curve for those charged with implementing the policy. This year, tuition fees for secondary schools were also abolished, and many of the problems from 2003 are resurfacing in 2008.
Primary among those problems is overcrowding and capacity constraints. A dearth of teachers, scarcity of textbooks and inadequate facilities were all major issues when primary schools went from educating about six million children in 2002 to the current total of eight million. Last year, there were 1.2 million children in Kenya’s secondary school system, of which approximately 400,000 were beginning their studies — about 60 percent of those who sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education — a number estimated to have risen by 200,000 with the introduction of subsidies to cover tuition and other costs.
According to some estimates, at least 4,000 new classrooms, the equivalent of 250 schools, are needed to accommodate the 1.4 million pupils expected in public secondary schools beginning in January 2008. Kenya currently has 4,478 public secondary schools, many of which are in a state of disrepair and lack essential facilities.
Education Secretary Karega Mutahi told Inter Press Service that existing schools can accommodate the increase in secondary learners: “There are some schools which are under-utilized while others are congested. Our insistence…is to ensure balance in all schools.”
Whether or not that is the case, there is an undeniable lack of teachers to meet mandated student-teacher ratios of 40-45:1. The Teachers Service Commission, the governmental agency that employs instructors, would like to employ an additional 4,000 teachers. But presently, authorities have frozen the recruitment of additional teachers, only employing staff to replace those leaving the 235,000-strong service.
Last year, the average teacher-pupil ratio in Kenya’s secondary schools already stood at one to 45, so it seems that without the hiring of new educators, overcrowded classrooms will be inevitable. Indications are that many public high schools are already struggling to perform well in national examinations, a situation that could be worsened by pupils entering institutions that are poorly equipped to receive them.
In spite of these problems, the new secondary education policy has been welcomed by most. Bright children from poor homes will now have a chance to develop, they say — not a perfect chance, perhaps, but an opportunity nonetheless.
– Inter Press Service
March 26, 2008
Universities in Dire Need of Doctorate-Holding Lecturers
According to a July report in The Standard, a Kenyan daily, there are not nearly enough lecturers with Ph.D. degrees in public and private universities in sub-Saharan Africa, significantly diminishing the value of higher education. Outside South Africa, many universities in the region are lucky to have 10 doctorate-holding lecturers on staff. In Kenya, with the exception of the University of Nairobi where about 50 percent of the faculty holds a Ph.D. or equivalent, doctorate-holders are thinly spread across 24 accredited and licensed universities.
But the situation is worse in ‘garage universities’ where students are taught by lecturers and instructors without postgraduate training. Most of these are regional centers and partnerships with commercial colleges and other institutions whose core business is not to produce highly skilled graduates or to conduct applied and basic research.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has about 20 of the ‘garage universities’ across the country. Unqualified and poorly paid people manage many of them. The University of Nairobi has established similar ‘garages’ by allowing commercial colleges to offer its degrees, a hybrid approach to privatizing university education, which has become a money-spinner for state universities in recent years.
– The Standard
July 10, 2008
Former Refugees Create New University, a Model Being Repeated Across the Continent
In African countries where governance and investment opportunities are improving, expatriated Africans are increasingly returning to their home countries, and some are investing in educational opportunities.
Such was the case with a group of friends from the breakaway republic of Somaliland, one of the world’s most neglected corners, formerly a part of Somalia. The idea for the International Horn University was developed in 1997 in Finland where they were in exile. In 2004, the four men returned home with savings and a desire to make a difference. The towering university now stands in Somaliland’s hilly capital Hargeisa.
Investments by returning refugees provide a lifeline to millions in Somaliland, which does not receive any direct foreign aid as it is not recognized internationally. This trend of Africans returning home to do business is taking tentative hold in several sub-Saharan countries. As nations shake off war, adopt better governance, and cash in on a commodities boom, former refugees and other members of the African diaspora are coming back, drawn by patriotism and investment opportunities in a region which the International Monetary Fund expects to grow by 6.5 percent this year.
After extreme turbulence and violence in the 1980s and early 1990s, when former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted and autonomy from Somalia was achieved, refugees began to return in the mid-1990s.Officials say the returnees now number in the thousands, with Somalis from other regions also attracted here by the relative stability.
Half of Somaliland’s cabinet and lawmakers are former refugees who came back mainly from Europe and America. Many refugees have also taken advantage of savings to build businesses. The developers of International Horn University have even bigger dreams. One of those men, Almis Yahye Ibrahim, told the Christian Science Monitor that he wants to fashion future leaders. “We don’t have leaders in our country but we have managers. Our aim is to produce visionary leaders in future who can bring back hope and amalgamate our people. There is a huge appetite for such leadership and we hope to be the source,” he said.
Ugandan, Kenyan, and Asian lecturers provide tutorials at the university, which offers master degrees and PhD courses, in conjunction with Malaysia Open University. Approximately 500 students pay an average of US$450 per semester.
– The Christian Science Monitor
August 12, 2008
Nation Needs Six More Universities
Higher education reform initiatives in recent years have been dominated by mergers between formerly black and white universities in South Africa, a bid to transform higher education after apartheid. These efforts have been “difficult and messy” and distracted attention from expanding student numbers, the country’s vice-chancellors believe.
According to the spokesman for South Africa’s university leaders, the country will need at least six more universities to raise participation in higher education from the current 15 percent, and the sector is now asking whether the mergers ordered by the government were necessary. Roy du Pré, vice-chancellor of Durban University of Technology and head of Higher Education South Africa which represents the heads of the country’s universities, told the Association of Commonwealth Universities in Durban in July that the mergers had been a distraction.
“The mergers have been very difficult in South Africa and taken our eye off the international ball. While the rest of the world has been excited about growth we have spent a lot of time dealing with mergers.”
The mergers reduced the number of universities from 32 to 23, and were largely pushed through by the government in 2004. According to du Pré, many of the mergers have still not been fully completed and might even be reversed.At the same time, real terms funding per student in South African universities has fallen as the numbers have risen from 500,000 in 1999 to 740,000 in 2006.
– The Guardian
July 14, 2008
New Catholic University
The Catholic University of West Africa, which operates campuses in numerous West Africa nations, has opened a university in the small West African nation of Togo. The Catholic University of Togo (CUT) was officially opened in July. The university has two campuses, in Sanguera on the north-western outskirts of the capital, Lomé, and in Tsevie, in the Prefecture of Golfo. For now, only the Lomé campus is open. When both are operational, the university will have a capacity of 5,000 students. CUT will specialize in the field of information technology. It was opened by the Minister for Higher Education, Messan Adimado Aduayom.
– Catholic Information Service for Africa
July 18, 2008
Health Sciences University Launched
The International Health Sciences University was officially opened in August at the International Hospital Kampala, where the university is located. The university obtained a provisional license in March and the first freshman class begins lectures on September 1.
The non-residential university has two faculties, the Institute of Health Policy and Management and the School of Nursing. It will offer health science certificates, diplomas and postgraduate degree programs on a full and part-time basis.
– New Vision
August 3, 2008
New Higher Education Law To Exert Even Greater Control Over Universities
A new law governing higher education institutions in Zimbabwe will soon become operational, despite severe criticism from many quarters describing the law as draconian. The government will appoint a nine-member board that will exert control over institutions under the legislation – the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education Act – according to the Education Ministry, which asserts that the new laws will allow the government to assure quality standards through a registration and accreditation process.
Critics believe the newly enacted law is a move to suppress support among students and academics for the political opposition. Commentators say that the students’ backing of Morgan Tsvangirai against President Robert Mugabe in the latest general election had prompted the government to seek ways of exerting greater control over universities.
– University World News
July 6, 2008
Universities on Verge of ‘Death’
University staff in Zimbabwe have warned that all public universities in the country face closure if working conditions, pay and other issue resulting from hyper-inflation and political turmoil do not improve. Already there has been a massive exodus of university lecturers, and those that have remained now say that their salary does not even cover the cost of transportation to work in the face of runaway inflation, currently thought to be nearing 50 million percent. Lecturers say they have not worked since June.
A July memorandum addressed to President Robert Mugabe, signed by heads of two higher education unions – the Zimbabwe State Universities’ Union of Academics and the Zimbabwe State Universities Allied Workers’ Union – said all public universities might “die” if their concerns were not addressed.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by University World News, concluded: “It is important to note that if something is not done urgently to address the situation, state universities will die and there will not be any reason to open for the next semester.”
– University World News
August 17, 2008