WENR, July/August 2009: Africa

20 US-Africa University Partnership Initiatives Launched

Awards from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Higher Education for Development [1] (HED) are for only $50,000 each, but they are viewed as the first step in more sustainable long-term partnerships. The 40 paired winners of the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative Planning Grant Competition were chosen in April from nearly 300 applications submitted for capacity-building partnerships between U.S. colleges and universities and higher education institutions in sub-Sahara.

The money is to be used to develop plans to address regional and national economic development priorities such as engineering, health, agriculture, environment and natural resources, science and technology, education and teacher training/preparation, and business, management and economics.

The 40 paired winning institutions include:

U.S. Higher Education Institution African Higher Education Institution
Calvin College [2] Milton Margai College, Sierra Leone [3]
Cleveland State University [4] Copperbelt University, Zambia [5]
Colorado State University [6] University Nairobi, Kenya [7]
Durham Technical CC [8] Kigali Inst Science & Technology, Rwanda [9]
George Mason University [10] University Sierra Leone [11]
Georgia State University [12] Grand-Bassam University, Cote d’Ivoire [13]
Michigan State University [14] University Malawi [15]
North Dakota State University [16] University of Makerere, Uganda [17]
Oklahoma State University [18] Hawasa University, Ethiopia [19]
Texas A&M University [20] University Namibia [21]
George Washington University [22] University of Moi, Kenya [23]
Ohio State University [24] Gaston-Berger, Senegal [25]
Troy University [26] University of Liberia [27]
Tufts University [28] Muhimibili University, Tanzania [29]
University of Alabama- Birmingham [30] University Zambia [31]
University of Connecticut [32] Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia [33]
University of the Pacific [34] School of Banking & Finance, Rwanda [35]
Virginia Tech University [36] Catholic University, Sudan [37]
West Virginia University [38] Catholic University, Mozambique [39]
Wheelock College-Boston [40] University Education Winneba, Ghana [41]

HED managed the competition, which grew out of the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative [42], a collaborative effort between a number of higher education associations and other organizations, led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities [43] (A-P-L-U), formerly the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC).

If funding can be found to implement the plans that come from these grants and partnerships, this small start could lead to significant developments in African higher education.

“It is our belief that if funding is found to implement these plans, we will see tangible, measurable and sustainable impact made in these African countries,” said Dr Tully Cornick, Executive Director of HED, when the winners were announced in April.

USAID News Release [44]
April 13, 2009

First Guide to Southern African Universities Published

The Southern African Regional Universities’ Association [45] (SARUA) has published a guide to all state-funded universities in Southern Africa. According to SARUA, the basic intentions driving this initiative are: “to provide sets of basic university data; and to show how the region’s dominant historical trends of the past 50 years have influenced the development of national higher education efforts.”

The SARUA Handbook 2009 [46], available free for download [47], offers a country-by-country guide to all 66 public universities in the 14-country region of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which includes Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Southern African Regional Universities’ Association [46]
July 2009

DR Congo

6 Universities Closed

After a visit by the minister of higher education, six university institutions in Katanga-Kalemie have been declared ‘non viable,’ while 16 technical medical training institutes have also been closed following a health ministry audit.

The six public and private universities were closed due to a lack of adequate facilities, some holding classes in primary schools. In a number of programs, including technology, medicine, public health and agronomy, only theoretical studies were possible because of a lack of teaching materials. The minister, Mashako Mamba, said he intended to set up an inquiry into the viability of the schools concerned.

There are reportedly 50 institutions of higher education not accredited by the government that operate in Katanga. The 16 technical institutes of medicine were closed by Health Minister Mopipi Mukulumanya because they had not reached standards set by his ministry.

Le Potentiel [48]
May 21, 2009


Government Signs Education Cooperation Agreement with Italy

Italy and Libya launched a strategic partnership in higher education, science and technology during the historic first visit of Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi to Rome in June.

The strategic partnership was launched under a treaty on friendship, partnership and cooperation. It includes bilateral agreements to boost scientific and technical cooperation in sea resources, student exchanges and scholarships for Libyan students. It will also support government-to-government exchanges, scientific partnerships between private, academic, and non-governmental entities, and the establishment of science-based industries.

A US$9 billion five-year Libyan higher education strategic plan would facilitate technology and knowledge transfer into the country as well as building the Libyan scientific workforces.

University World News [49]
June 21, 2009


Weak Currency Hampers Study Abroad Opportunities

Nigeria’s weakening currency is making it harder for students wanting to study abroad. For those already abroad, parents are finding it hard to remit money to their children, causing some to continue their studies at home. This is a problem for Nigerian universities, which already are filled to capacity. This year some 1.5 million Nigerians sat for common entrance tests into 95 universities whose carrying capacity, according to the National Universities Commission [50] is about 170,000 students.

Banks have reportedly received fewer applications from parents to process tuition fees for students abroad. For the past eight months there has been a close correlation between the drop in the number of tuition fee applications for Nigerian students abroad, the weak local currency – the Naira – and a gradual decline in the country’s foreign currency holdings. The weakening Naira and depleting foreign reserves are both due mainly to lower international demand for crude oil, Nigeria’s main source of income.

University World News [51]
May 28, 2009


Private Higher Education Paying Dividends for National Economy

According to a group representing Senegalese industry, private higher education contributes nearly CFA 13 billion (US$27.7 million) a year to the national economy. However, according to Abdou Samb in an interview with the Wal Fadjro newspaper, former President of the industry group Collectif de l’Enseignement Supérieur Privé (Cesp), the high costs have made higher education inaccessible to many young Senegalese. He further notes that the situation could be improved if the government worked with the private sector to help cover some of the costs.

According to Samb, some of the main reasons the private sector has been so influential are a stable political environment and the quality of the academic body and overall infrastructure. Wal Fadjri reported that these conditions allow for an academic environment similar to that in Western countries.

Many students from other African countries are choosing the capital, Dakar, as a study destination, with over 20 nationalities represented, according to Samb. However, the high cost of a private education and limited places in the public sector are leaving many qualified Senegalese secondary graduates without access to tertiary studies. Part of the solution, Samb believes, could be an initiative similar to that adopted by the government of Gabon, which instituted a program two years ago that sends 4,000 grant-aided students to Senegal each year to study at private institutions of higher education.

Wal Fadjri [52]
May 18, 2009


Remote Lessons from India

Uganda’s flagship university has dedicated two lecture halls to tele-education from classrooms in India. Among others in the region, Makerere University [53] is encouraging students to learn from better-resourced education institutions through satellite technology. Students from more than a dozen universities in East Africa are broadcasting the lectures from Indira Gandhi National Open University [54]. The lectures are interactive and allow students to ask questions.

The program, known as the Pan African E-Network Project [55], is funded by the government of India with over US$200 million. It is a joint initiative between the government of India and the African Union, which aims to develop Africa’s information and communication technologies.

New Vision [56]
June 2, 2009


Access to Tertiary Studies Remains “Limited”

Zambians seeking a higher education at home continue to face severe capacity constraints at the nation’s institutions of higher education. According to University of Zambia [31] Vice-chancellor Professor Steven Simukanga, access remains “limited and unsatisfactory” due to poor maintenance and an increase in the school-going population, However, Simukanga says progress is being made.

In an address to the university’s 39th graduation ceremony for medical students in May, Simukanga said the nation’s oldest university – established 43 years ago – faced numerous problems including inadequate funding. But the university had continued to make progress in a number of areas. Implementation of its 2008-2012 strategic plan, with the theme of restoring excellence in teaching, research and public service, was underway and has the potential to transform the institution into a modern ‘developmental’ university.

University World News [57]
May 31, 2009