Senegal has announced that a new human and social sciences education and research unit will open next year in Kolda in the south. A centre for research and experimentation has also just opened in the region – raising the number of such centres countrywide from eight in 2012 to 23 now.
Kenyan universities face a heavy burden this year as they prepare to enrol the highest ever number of students to qualify for university, following improved performance in the 2015 school-leaving examinations. The proportion of candidates who attained the minimum university pass mark of C+ rose by 16,049 to 165,766 candidates, or 32.3% of those graded.
Morocco’s Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane had to abandon a speech at the HEM Business School in Oujda when students in the audience interrupted him with boos and protests against brutality by police who had beaten up demonstrating trainee teachers.
The African Development Bank has provided a €9.7 million (US$10.8 million) grant for the new African Network of Centres of Excellence in Electricity. Centres have been selected in four African countries and will train some 9,700 power professionals.
After months of union strikes and protests against the government of Senegal’s ‘lack of respect for signed agreements’, the national assembly adopted laws improving the status of university lecturers and living and working conditions for students. Higher Education Minister Mary Teuw Niane has also announced that a new university will open in October.
The Pan African University’s Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, based in Kenya, is seeking to boost its faculty by recruiting up to 32 short-term lecturers from across the continent to teach for periods ranging from four to 16 weeks.
Former academic and activist Dr Jessie Kabwila – who led academic freedom protests against Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika four years ago, when he was higher education minister – was arrested on treason charges last Monday.
Cairo University, Egypt’s biggest state-run academic institution, has initiated an action plan against thriving but unlawful ‘teaching centres’ in its vicinity, accusing them of “undermining the educational process”.
Twenty-nine early career scientists from 24 African universities and research institutes have been awarded fellowships to study the impacts of climate change on the continent, under the CIRCLE – Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement – initiative.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Théophile Mbemba, higher education and universities minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has given stern instructions to members of newly appointed university management committees on the need to improve standards in higher education.
South Africa’s #FeesMustFall movement has found resonance in neighbouring Namibia, where student protests last week resulted in the government postponing registration fee payment at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Ugandan universities are phasing out courses with few students – except science courses and those not available elsewhere or where a university may have a comparative advantage.
The Pan African University is to establish gender desks with permanent staff in all of its four operational institutes to address an acute problem of gender disparity in enrolments. Males comprise nearly 70% of all students admitted so far.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced a commission of inquiry into long-term funding for universities in a week that saw registration disrupted, institutions closed and protests over outsourcing and free higher education. Student leaders met with the minister of higher education and training to seek answers to the #FeesMustFall campaign.
Namibian higher education funding will be based on a new formula from the 2016-17 academic year. The country now calculates operational funds based on the number of courses, which translate into credit units, for which a student is registered. This does not mean more money for institutions – it’s all about bringing transparency and equity to funding, said a top official.
Private universities in Kenya are pushing to be allowed to admit state-funded students, in a bid to help ease an admissions crisis in public institutions. Currently – and despite a government directive – private institutions can only admit self-sponsored students.
Joyce Kambua (23), a clerk at a petrol station in Nairobi, is excited. She is joining a local university next month to study for a diploma in management – something she thought would not be possible after the government banned higher education institutions from offering diploma courses. But universities are totally ignoring the directive issued earlier this year.
Senate, the upper chamber of Nigeria’s legislative body, has directed the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to extend the validity of university entrance exam results to three years, and to stop assigning students to institutions for which they have not applied.
The higher education and research budget for 2016 will rise by more than FCFA19 billion (US$31.7 million) to support Senegal’s development plan for the sector, Higher Education Minister Mary Teuw Niane has told parliament. He also updated MPs on some government programmes, including first-year results from the country’s virtual university.
Zimbabwe’s government has resolved to issue higher and tertiary education bonds for the development of infrastructure at public universities, polytechnics and colleges.
Five North African countries – Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – along with 38 European and Mediterranean states stand to benefit from a new initiative to set up an ‘energy university’ that will provide free, specialised education for energy professionals via an online platform.
The Africa Union has merged its science and education bodies in a move designed to improve sectoral relationships, effectiveness and efficiency. The African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology and the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union will now operate as one entity.
Controversy stalked the appointment last December of Professor Peter Mbithi as vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi, and has followed him ever since. Mbithi has fought bare-knuckled duels with colleagues, including his deputy over control of finances, exposing a cash crunch – the university is allegedly running on a US$25 million deficit and millions of dollars in bank overdrafts.
The Nigerian government is finalising plans to compel universities to provide student hostels on all campuses. Julius Okojie, executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, said the move was “aimed at ensuring better living conditions for students with a view to producing better graduates”.
Drastic changes in higher education are needed to improve quality and graduate employability in the Middle East and North Africa. A report from the African Development Bank says a new approach is needed that could be referred to as ‘education for (self-)employment’.