WENR, September 2014: Africa


East African Credit Transfer System Moves Closer to Reality

The five signatory countries to the East African Community [1] have taken their biggest step yet towards harmonizing higher education by crafting a draft credit transfer system and a qualifications model. The new qualifications system – which awaits several approvals before being rolled out – would allow Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to harmonize the programs offered in their universities.

Currently, while most programs are almost identical in name and general content, they differ in areas such as duration and qualifications considerations. There are also varying parameters on how programs are constituted and the number of credit hours a student is expected to accumulate.

The new qualifications and credit transfer systems, which were discussed by education officials from the five countries in June, will allow students to start a degree program, for instance, at the University of Burundi and finish it at Kenya’s Kenyatta University.

The harmonization platform is scheduled for roll out next year.

University World News [2]
July 4, 2014


Polytechnics to Convert to Technical Universities

The Ghanaian government plans to convert polytechnics into technical universities beginning in September 2016, to help realign graduate qualifications with the needs of the labor market and also to drive socio-economic development.

Dr George Afeti, former secretary general of the Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Africa and former rector of Ho Polytechnic, said the government would soon present a bill before parliament on the conversion of polytechnics to technical universities.

He said converted polytechnics are not to become ‘traditional’ universities with similar mandates or duplicate the courses and programs that universities are offering. Upgraded polytechnics would be required to remain focused on their core function of training technicians and technologists at a higher level to meet the needs of the rapidly changing, technology-driven work environment.

Vibe Ghana [3]
July 14, 2014


University of Rwanda to Offer First Doctoral Programs

Rwandans seeking to pursue doctoral studies will be able to do so at the University of Rwanda [4] with effect from the next academic year. The university is finalizing curricula for eight Ph.D. programs in line with the government’s objectives of building a knowledge-based development platform for the country.

For years, Rwandans have had to study for doctorates either in private institutions such as Mt Kenya University or outside the country. Speaking to The New Times, Professor Nelson Ijumba, the university deputy vice-chancellor for academic affairs, said introducing Ph.D. programs would help increase the number of highly qualified personnel the country needs.

Of the 1,484 University of Rwanda staff, only 281 (19%) are Ph.D. holders. However, Ijumba said the number is expected to increase to 22 percent by 2018, thanks to staff training programs supported by SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

The University of Rwanda was established in late 2013 as the result of a series of mergers between seven of Rwanda’s small public degree-awarding institutions, the largest of which was the National University of Rwanda. It has just over 30,000 students, the vast majority of them undergraduates, around 1,400 academic staff and an equal number of support staff.

The New Times [5]
June 23, 2014

Carnegie Mellon Graduates First Rwanda Class

Carnegie Mellon University became the first top-ranked U.S. institution of higher education to operate a fully-fledged campus in Africa when it set up in Rwanda in September 2011. The first batch of students graduated in July.

“The graduation underscores Carnegie Mellon University and the government of Rwanda’s commitment to educating engineers and entrepreneurs who are striving to make an economic impact in East Africa,” officials said in a statement.

Carnegie Mellon’s Africa campus is based in the capital Kigali and serves as a center of excellence – it is primarily meant as a regional ICT hub for East Africa, while at the same time helping the Rwandan government to create an innovation incubator to nurture students’ entrepreneurial skills.

“Being present in East Africa is the only way to understand the region’s technology needs,” said Bruce Krogh, inaugural director of Carnegie Mellon University in East Africa. The university prides itself as the first U.S. institution to offer a masters degree program taught by full-time faculty resident in Africa. Already, 22 students have received graduate degrees in information technology.

It is hoped that the university’s graduates will lead the next generation of innovators and business leaders responsible for propelling the region’s economic and social growth into the future. The program provides for a three-month paid internship for students to work with cutting-edge ICT companies such as General Electric and IBM, enabling the students to become familiar with opportunities in Africa and to build a network of contacts.

The university is currently working on developing new scholarships to complement the 50 percent tuition scholarship that has been offered by the Rwandan government to applicants from countries within East Africa. The campus offers two graduate programs, including its founding masters in science in information technology, in addition to a masters in electrical and computer engineering that has just been launched.

The university and government are working to create a technology and engineering hub that will drive investment in the ICT sector across East Africa.

University World News [6]
August 14, 2014

South Africa

South Africa to Host Fifth and Final Campus of Pan African University

South Africa has been selected to host the southern, space sciences node of the Pan African University – after initial rejection, a five-year wait and much politicking. The remaining four nodes of the university – aimed at boosting graduate training and research across Africa – were decided some time ago and are based in Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria.

A meeting of the Southern Africa Development Community science ministers held in the Mozambican capital Maputo in June reportedly decided to give the southern campus of the Pan African University to South Africa, to be hosted by Stellenbosch University [7], after five-years of indecision over its location.

The southern node of the university is expected to promote research in space sciences to augment Southern Africa’s hosting of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. Some of the other PAU nodes are already well established and in the process of admitting a second intake of masters students, such as the East African node which focuses on basic sciences, technology and innovation and is at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology [8] in Kenya.

The West African node is at the University of Ibadan [9] in Nigeria and concentrates on life and earth sciences, the Central African campus is at the University of Yaoundé [10] in Cameroon and covers the areas of governance, humanities and social science, and in North Africa, Algeria has the water, energy sciences and climate change campus.

University World News [11]
July 4, 2014