More than five months of fighting between the government and rebel forces in South Sudan has further devastated an already neglected higher education system. Two of the country’s five public universities fell in the path of some of the war’s heaviest clashes and have not reopened after the Christmas holiday. It is not known when – or if – classes will start again.
The African Union’s vision of a prosperous continent driven by a knowledge economy has been frustrated by many countries not making education a priority in development plans, according to the AU Outlook on Education Report 2014. The hard-hitting report says progress towards improving education access and quality at all levels has been too slow.
Countries that are members of the Arab Maghreb Union in North Africa have on average made greater strides in expanding tertiary education than their counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to an African Union regional report on education.
Unequal access to university education is likely to persist in most countries globally despite concerted attempts to expand opportunities by 2030, according to a UNESCO Position Paper on Education Post-2015. It warns that the problem will not be limited to scarcity of places: there will also be a knowledge divide caused by lack of chances to acquire skills in technology.
Graduate unemployment rates have spiralled across Sub-Saharan Africa as too few graduates gain the skills needed to find work. In many countries employers complain of a lack of basic, technical and transferable skills, says a new report by the British Council.
Kenya’s public universities admitted record numbers of students last year, beating their fast-growing private sector rivals and defying infrastructure constraints that have been dogging them. New data from the government shows that enrolments to state universities rose by 41%, from 195,428 in 2012 to 276,349 by the end of last year.
Babu Owino is easily the most popular of Kenya’s 325,000 tertiary students. He’s been elected to lead the Students Organisation of Nairobi University and also chairs the national student umbrella body. But the reason he’s attracting public interest is because Owino mounted the most colourful, well-oiled and high profile campaign ever seen in student politics.
A new university has opened in northeast Burundi, committed to promoting higher education and research for rural development in the long-suffering Great Lakes region. "Building peace, prosperity and hope is the important message of our university," said the first rector of East Africa Star University, Czech philosopher Dr Marek Hrubec.
Kenya has signed a ground-breaking partnership with French public financier Agence Francaise de Developpement that intends to set up credit lines to fund university expansion and student loans.
Government expenditure on South Africa's universities should be boosted by 40% and an additional R3 billion (US$288 million) invested annually in research and development in higher education institutions if the country aims only to be on a par with world averages, according to a new study.
Swedish student Malin Cronqvist was about to head off to spend 10 weeks in Tanzania doing volunteer work at a local guesthouse in 2010, when she began wondering how she could make a positive difference in a country where the higher education dreams of thousands of youngsters die each year because of lack of money.
The latest attempt at negotiations between Benin's president and leaders of striking public sector workers and lecturers has ended in deadlock. University students and school pupils are disappointed with the outcome of the two-month strike, as institutions remain closed.
Students from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will in future pay local fees in any of the three East African Community states. A new deal has moved the countries closer to harmonised higher education, which has been elusive for five years due to difficulties in agreeing key parameters like fees and credit transfer.
The Institute for Euro-African Management, an innovative French-Moroccan partnership, is training a new generation of high potential managers in Africa. Its first cohort of masters students, from eight African countries, will graduate in September.
Three public tertiary institutions in Lagos, the richest state in Nigeria and West Africa, are embroiled in controversies over tuition fees. Lagos State University was temporarily closed following violent student protests over fees and other issues.
Africa’s heavy dependency on international scientific collaboration may be stifling research individualism and affecting the continent’s research evolution and priorities, a study has found. Papers co-authored by African academics with international partners grew by 66% in five years.
Early career scientists have the intellectual ability needed to develop strong national research and innovation systems, but funding shortages and lack of resources and support are major obstacles hindering their careers, says a report by the Global Young Academy.
Massive open online courses – MOOCs – are potential game changers for African education, radically enhancing access to knowledge and creating borderless education. In that light it is a boon that a network for educational technology practitioners and researchers, e/merge Africa, has won a major award.
The fighting that has left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced thousands more in South Sudan has also thrown an international project to promote women's access to and success in higher education into limbo.
As tens of thousands of new graduates poured out of South Africa’s universities to hopefully enjoy the summer holidays, an important question for the country is whether they will find jobs next year and where they will go. A major graduate destination survey published earlier this year found that one in 10 is likely to end up abroad – “a significant loss”.
A high-level policy dialogue in Brussels showed that there is both the will and the potential for closer cooperation between European Union and South African higher education. The meeting ended with agreements in five areas – the rationale for internationalisation, internationalisation at home, quality and quality assurance, open educational resources, and tools and instruments for cooperation.
A distinguished academic has advised Namibia to differentiate higher education if it is to transform into a knowledge-based economy. He called for strengthening further education and training to improve access to a more diverse system that will better meet the needs of the developing Southern African country.
Major reforms are looming for student loan schemes in East Africa as governments seek to raise enrolments and ease the fees burden on parents. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda have announced plans to restructure their student loan systems or are already doing so, also aiming to raise more funds and achieve efficiencies in loan recovery.
A study by the head of a ministerial oversight committee on transformation in South African higher education, which found that it could take 43 years to achieve racial balance among staff in universities and proposes new admissions policies and funding penalties against untransformed institutions, has sparked controversy.
Public universities in Nigeria have been shut since 2 July by crippling industrial action by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities. The main grouse of academics is the government’s failure to fund various formal agreements aimed at revitalising the public university system.