WENR, May 2011: Africa
Lessons Learned From U.S. Foundations’ Cooperative Efforts in Africa Higher Education
Last year, after 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in philanthropic efforts to develop African higher education, the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa disbanded, leaving behind a long list of accomplishments, in addition to a series of missteps and lessons on how American universities can help their African counterparts.
The umbrella organization consisted of seven American foundations and provided $440 million to institutions and scholars in nine countries, making it one of the largest international efforts to assist universities in Africa. Many of the foundations continue to work in African higher education despite the winding down of the partnership because of leadership changes at some of the grant making institutions.
Among other achievements, the partnership is credited with expanding Internet access and e-learning at universities, establishing advocacy and research networks, building laboratories and science facilities, creating opportunities for young African scholars, and enrolling more women and disadvantaged students in colleges. On the negative side, a post-project report says the partnership lacked clear goals, had an inefficient decision-making process, and did not do enough joint grant making to try to solve the bigger problems in African higher education.
To most African officials, the partnership’s biggest accomplishment was expanding Internet access for African educators. In 2005, the foundations started to pay connectivity expenses for a group of universities and education associations, known as the Bandwidth Consortium, and helped negotiate a bulk deal with a satellite Internet-service provider to drastically cut costs. For American universities, the partnership’s accomplishments highlighted areas where they could engage with their African peers. Generally, foundation officials and education experts suggested three areas of opportunity: e-learning, faculty development, and administrative training.
While the foundations themselves struggled with the issue, some of the partnership’s major accomplishments, like the Bandwidth Consortium, were achieved because it responded to what African university leaders said were priorities.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 1, 2011
China to Increase Scholarship Opportunities for African Students
In a bid to step up academic exchanges and build future China-Africa ties, China announced in May that it would significantly increase the number of government scholarships offered to African students. The pledge was made by Li Changchun, a senior official of the Communist Party of China, while he was addressing hundreds of students and teachers at the University of Nairobi.
In his keynote speech entitled “Strengthen China-Africa Friendship and Cooperation to Build a Better Tomorrow,” Li said the Chinese government is to double government scholarships to Kenya, from 32 annually to 64 starting from this year. Also announced was a Chinese provision for 740 million yuan (US$113 million) of preferential loans to Kenya for higher education and scientific research.
April 20, 2011
Campuses Closed Indefinitely by Unrest
Universities in Burkina Faso closed in May after months of unrest, which was sparked by the death of a school pupil while in police custody. The ensuing demonstrations and police crackdowns have resulted in the death of six students.
Concerned about the popular uprisings that have swept across Arab countries in recent months, the government has ordered all campuses to be shut down until further notice. Students have also been demonstrating against poor living and study conditions on campuses, staging protests in Ouagadougou, Koudougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.
Initially peaceful, the protests lasted for months and later turned violent, with the intervention of police on campuses. Several students were injured, and local media reported that six students had been killed. Police neither confirmed nor denied the killings. Since the protests had started in universities and they had become centers for planning street protests, the government ordered all campuses closed. No new date has been announced for the resumption of studies.
– University World News
May 1, 2011
British Universities Look to Build Ties with Nigeria
Nigeria has long been a major source of international students for British universities, and now institutions in the United Kingdom are looking to diversify their engagement activities with Nigerian universities.
In late March, 11 U.K. universities visited the capital city, Abuja, to assess the opportunities for developing new educational partnerships. Led by the Training Gateway, an industry group for vocationally oriented colleges, in conjunction with UK Trade & Investment of the British High Commission and the National Universities Commission; the universities spent two days delivering seminars and workshops to vice-chancellors and senior academics from leading Nigerian universities. Delegates also met with key public and private sector organizations, including the Federal Ministry of Education and the World Bank, to discuss potential opportunities.
The universities which attended the mission will be looking at partnerships with Nigerian universities in the development of expertise in capacity building; employer engagement; quality assurance; transnational education and distance learning; split site PhDs; soft skills / entrepreneurship. They will also be looking at partnering with Nigerian universities to develop undergraduate and graduate programs that meet the needs of local employers.
The universities which participated in the mission were: University of Durham, York, Leeds, Greenwich, Northumbria, Sheffield Hallam, Oxford Brookes, Wolverhampton, Central Lancashire, Canterbury Christ Church and Newcastle.
– International Focus
April 20, 2011
Second of Planned Continental Network of Postgraduate Math Centers to Launch
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) based in South Africa seeks to develop a pan-African network of centers to train graduate students and promote research in mathematical sciences within five years. To that end, in September, a second AIMS center will begin operations in Senegal with an initial enrollment of approximately 30 students. Additional centers are currently planned for Ghana and Ethiopia.
AIMS was created in 2003 as a partnership between six universities in three countries: Cambridge and Oxford in Britain, France’s Université Paris-Sud 11, and the universities of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch and Cape Town in South Africa.
AIMS-Senegal will be a bilingual institute with programs offered in both French and English. It will offer a one-year graduate-level program leading to a masters-level diploma in mathematical sciences.
AIMS South Africa teaches a nine-month graduate diploma in mathematical sciences, a biomathematics honors, and studies to the masters, doctoral and postdoctoral levels at its base in Cape Town. In June this year, it will have trained 54 mathematics students from across Africa.
One of the core programs of AIMS is the Next Einstein Initiative that involves establishing a network of 15 centers of excellence in graduate mathematics training across Africa, which will likely include locations in Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
– University World News
May 8, 2011
Admissions Standards for Public Universities Raised
Uganda’s five public universities, including Makerere University, have raised their admission standards for government-sponsored students for the coming academic year.
Under this year’s cut-off points, the competition for places is stiffest in the fields of medicine, wildlife and health management, agriculture and engineering. Overall, admission requirements for over 80 percent of science programs rose.
About 62,440 candidates scored two principal passes, the minimum needed for admission to university. However, the Government sponsors only 4,000 students in the five public universities of Makerere, Kyambogo, Busitema, Gulu and Mbarara.
– New Vision
May 11, 2011