Higher education institutions in the three West African countries hit by Ebola have been closed for nearly a year. While the authorities in Guinea and Liberia are taking steps to open schools and institutions that were shut following the disease outbreak, officials in Sierra Leone are still monitoring the situation.
Higher education unions have condemned the new framework law for universities passed on 26 December, which they say violates institutions’ freedom.
Kenya’s higher education regulator, the Commission for University Education, wants professional bodies barred from accrediting graduates in key professions and wants to take over the role, to avoid frequent stand-offs between the associations and universities.
The beginning of the year in West Africa's Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire has been disrupted by student protests and strikes.
Britain’s Institute of Development Studies will select nine African universities over two years to participate in a new programme to boost the research and teaching practices of academics working in agriculture, health and the environment. The British government is funding the scheme with a £2 million (US$3 million) grant.
Rwandan universities have embarked on an ambitious programme to teach Kiswahili, East Africa’s lingua franca, to enable the country’s populace to tap into regional integration.
It will cost Ghana’s government US$180 million per annum for the next three years to fully turn the country’s 10 polytechnics into technical universities, a report by a committee set up to work on the institutional conversion programme has said. Meanwhile, a working group has developed a national quality assurance framework for higher education.
Construction is about to start on two new universities in Senegal, each with capacity for 30,000 students, President Macky Sall has announced. One will be the second public university in the capital Dakar, and the other is the University of Sine-Saloum at Kaolack.
Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is proposing new regulations that will compel universities to ensure that 25% of graduates each year are at the postgraduate level, in an effort to end a biting shortage of lecturers.
In an effort to ease the burden of overcrowded universities and improve access to higher education, the government of Côte d’Ivoire has announced the creation of a digital university to boost distance education.
The legislative instrument that will change Ghana’s polytechnics into technical universities is ready to be put before parliament to be debated, according to Vice-president Kwesi Amissah-Arthur.
Ghana’s National Accreditation Board has said it is worried that professional associations have – without any authority – started enrolling unsuspecting students and awarding them qualifications. It has directed associations running ‘chartered institutes’ to cease operations.
The University of Rwanda is ramping up efforts to increase student enrolment, while planning to provide programmes for economic sectors that are growing within Rwanda, said Vice-chancellor James McWha.
Foreign tertiary institutions and their representatives in Ghana who operate without accreditation, including online universities, have been warned by the National Accreditation Board to regularise their operations or close.
Professor Georges Moyen, the new president of CAMES – the francophone Council for African and Malagasy Higher Education – has spelt out his plans for the 19-member council.
Botswana’s first private university, the Malaysian-owned Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, has become the country’s first fully licensed private tertiary institution, after seven years of operating under an interim licence.
Morocco’s higher education union Syndicat National de l’Enseignement Supérieur called a three-day strike at the end of September in protest against proposed government reforms, which it claimed threatened public universities and infringed its members’ rights.
The rector of the Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar said the university would reopen at the beginning of October, following closure of the campus in August due to violence in which a student died during a confrontation with police. Professor Ibrahima Thioub also said police were being withdrawn from the site to help calm the situation.
A pilot initiative led by UNESCO’s regional office in Dakar, Senegal, will provide online courses to expand and improve geology materials to West African universities.
On 16 September Goolam Mohammedbhai, Juma Shabani and Peter Okebukola were awarded by GUNi and AfriQAN for their tireless work on quality assurance in higher education in Africa. The European Union and the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, were awarded for their support to quality assurance processes on the continent.
The proficiency of many Senegalese students in French, the colonial language, is declining and the use of local languages – especially Wolof – is becoming more common on campus and in lectures. But there is disagreement over whether the decline is due to poor teaching, the fault of students, government reforms, or overcrowding and poor facilities.
With Kenyan public universities experiencing a severe shortage of accommodation brought about by rapid expansion of student numbers and elevation of middle-level colleges into universities, one institution has come up with an innovative public-private partnership to build 3,000 hostel units.
The World Bank will provide Yemen with a grant of US$3 million to improve higher education programmes in order to boost the employability of university graduates.
Zimbabwean universities are faced with bankruptcy as the government has failed to settle a US$64 million debt, only managing to pay US$20,000 a month. The unpaid money emanates from a cadetship programme in which government is supposed to pay institutions for the studies of children from underprivileged backgrounds.
Experts from Central African countries have called for the establishment of an international network of researchers and academics who are working on the slave trade and routes from the region, and for a relaunch of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project.