WENR, November 2012: Africa
East African Ministers Agree on Education Harmonization Law
The East African Community’s five member countries approved in November a key bill that would harmonize and standardize their university education systems, after three years of negotiations.
Education ministers from the five nations – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – met in the Rwandan capital Kigali and approved the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) Bill 2012. Under the bill, students will have greater access to learning and mobility opportunities across East Africa.
The main stumbling block in passing the bill was a provision giving the regulatory IUCEA the power to accredit all institutions and programs operating in the region, essentially stripping local regulators of their in-country autonomy to set standards. The bill, which had earlier been approved by the East African Legislative Assembly, has cut some of these powers, leaving the IUCEA with an oversight role. It is not yet clear when the bill will become effective.
Among other things, the bill allows university students to move freely across the bloc’s institutions via a credit accumulation and transfer arrangement. The IUCEA, which is pushing for the harmonization of higher education systems, said the first programs to be standardized would be medicine, agriculture, engineering and basic sciences, whose curricula have already been finalized.
This will not be easy, however, as member countries have different length-of-study requirements for different disciplines. For example, it takes five years for a student to finish an engineering degree in Kenya, but three years in Uganda. To pursue a medical degree at a Kenyan university takes five years, a year less than in Tanzania and Uganda. Under the new bill, countries are to come up with regulations on the duration of study.
– University World News
November 23, 2012
Setting Quality Standards and Rebuilding the Education Sector After 12 Years of Civil War
Burundi emerged from 12 years of civil war in 2005 with a battered education system, which the government is now trying to rebuild. University World News reports that the small, densely populated country is implementing a new higher education law and planning to set up a science fund early next year.
The war in Burundi pitted Hutus against Tutsis and led to academics and researchers fleeing the country. Research all but ceased as people sought to survive the war. The Higher Education Act, signed in December last year, is meant to regulate and breathe life into the system by outlining the role of public and private universities, the rules for the creation and approval of programs, in addition to accreditation provisions. Higher education entry requirements have been standardized, while the chaotic private sector has been tamed through a system of sanctions and penalties related to institutional quality. A new higher education commission is responsible for vetting quality and has to date accredited 23 private institutions. Stipulations have also been set on fees to be paid by students.
Burundi has fewer graduates as a percentage of its 10 million people than any other country in Africa. Higher education is mostly provided by the University of Burundi, located in the capital Bujumbura. It enrolls just over 3,000 students. The government is trying to reach out to academics who fled the country during the civil war, and government officials say that there has been some success in repatriating academics from Rwanda, Uganda and the United States America.
– University World News
October 28, 2012
Cocody University to Reopen After 18 Months
Cocody University in the capital Abdijan is the biggest in Cote d’Ivoire, and after 18 months of closure – brought on by civil war – the university is readying to re-open. At the time of closure there were approximately 62,000 students at Cocody out of a total of 85,000 nationwide.
All three Ivorian universities closed in April 2011, following the civil war between supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian People’s Front and those who backed the current president, Alassane Ouattara. Around 3,000 people were killed during the conflict. The campus has been refurbished after being the scene of violent clashes during the civil war. However, it will be a challenge to enroll – or re-enroll – students when all the records have been lost, reports the Guardian newspaper. And there are three years’ worth of school-leavers who must now be accommodated in the first-year intake.
Cocody has been renamed after Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the country’s first president after independence. Abobo-Adjamé, also in Abidjan and originally the science faculty, has become a separate establishment under a new name, Nangui-Abrogoua, after the warrior who founded the former capital in the 18th century. Last, Bouaké has become Alassane Ouattara University, in honour of the president.
– The Guardian
October 30, 2012
Government Looks to Introduce University Rankings to Stimulate Improvements
Kenya’s Commission for Higher Education (CHE) has announced that it plans to start ranking universities for an initial period of three years, in a bid to improve university education in the country.
“Ranking is one of the ways to stimulate competition among universities, promote quality, enhance access, and elicit public confidence,” the commission’s new chairman, David Some, said during a recent interview.
CHE, a government organization charged with the responsibility of enforcing learning standards, will lead the process. Overcrowded classes, a shortage of teaching staff, and seat shortages are believed to be pushing more Kenyan students to foreign universities.
Some of the main ranking criteria, according to news reports will be the reputation of the institution among employers, the quality of its facilities in relation to the programs on offer, and its lecturer-student ratios.
– Daily Nation
October 22, 2012
A Plan to Fast-Track Doctoral Candidates to Ease Faculty Shortages
The Kenyan government hopes to introduce a Ph.D. fast-track that would see at least 1,000 undergraduate students annually move straight into doctoral studies, as the government moves to lessen the ratio of university students to qualified faculty members at the nation’s overcrowded universities.
Higher Education, Science and Technology Secretary Harry Kaane told an annual conference on industry and higher education in October that the government would introduce funded teaching scholarships for new graduates. “The ministry plans to introduce 1,000 government-funded teaching assistantships annually in both public and private universities for postgraduate students who would be transited straight from their undergraduate studies, allowing them to attain PhDs,” said Professor Kaane.
He said this would help them serve as teaching assistants to support the increased enrollment of undergraduates while gaining hands-on teaching experience. The move is also designed to free up research time for faculty members. It is not yet clear how the program will be run and who would qualify for the scheme.
– Business Daily
October 25, 2012
Kenya Top for IT in East Africa
A Ugandan institution was ranked best in East Africa for its adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT), but Kenyan universities dominated the top 10 in a survey conducted by the research firm CPS International, and sponsored by the Pan African Education Trust.
The survey found East African universities to be increasingly embracing ICT in teaching and learning and comparing favorably with international universities in the use of technology. Private universities outperformed public institutions and Uganda’s Makerere University was ranked first. However, Kenyan universities, the survey showed, are leading in East Africa in the use and accessibility of ICT, while Burundi is lagging behind. Uganda was ranked second, Tanzania third and Rwanda fourth. The five countries make up the East African Community.
The survey, which polled 250 institutions based on data collection and interviews, showed that ICT has opened up East African universities to sharing and accessing academic and research materials and corporate information. Kenya had invested more heavily in ICT than other East African countries while Burundi has invested the least, the survey showed.
“The use of websites, subscribing to academic journals, use of intranet, social media and other e-learning tools have revolutionized the academic sector in East Africa,” said Dann Mwangi, CPS regional director.
The CPS survey, carried out between April and October 2012, focused on how institutions have embraced the use of ICT in teaching and enhancing quality and effective education. Kenyan universities took six out of the top 10 positions: Strathmore University (2nd), Multimedia University College, African Virtual University, University of Nairobi, Mount Kenya University and Kenyatta University.
– Kenya Broadcasting Corporation
November 1, 2012
Kenyan Accreditor Fails to Recognize Top Ugandan University
Kenya’s Commission for Higher Education (CHE) has said that it will not recognize degrees from Kampala International University (KIU), one of the most popular universities in East Africa for international students, stating that the university is not chartered to offer degrees. The CHE has said that as a result it will not evaluate degrees from KIU, and implement that policy retroactively. This means that thousands of Kenyans who graduated from KIU over the last decade have been awarded qualifications not recognized in Kenya.
“This is a cause for alarm. The institution is not chartered and therefore any papers from KIU cannot be recognized in Kenya,” CHE Chief Executive David Some told the Nation in a recent interview. Prof Some spoke days after Uganda’s National Council for Higher Education directed KIU to halt a planned graduation ceremony for 42 doctoral students, saying it lacked the capacity to offer the programs. Of the 42 candidates, officials said 30 were from Kenya.
– Daily Nation
November 26, 2012
5 Teachers Colleges To Be Upgraded to Universities
The Zambian government has said it will spend an estimated K31 trillion (US$6 million) over four years to transform five training institutions into universities, and establish a new one.
The government has said that it is committed to increasing enrollment at the university level. The six new universities of education will be: Nkrumah (secondary education in social sciences), Mukuba (secondary education in mathematics and science), Chalimbana (primary education and education administration), Palabana (agriculture), Robert Kapasa Makasa (science and technology), and Paul Mushindo.
– The Post Online
November 1, 2012