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Africa News
ZAMBIA: Government audits two universities
Audits are underway at two of Zambia's largest higher education institutions, on the orders of the government, Higher Education Minister Professor Geoffrey Lungangwa told parliament late last year. This followed an attack on the government from parliamentarians over examination paper leakages and political interference at institutions of higher learning.
EQYPT: Law tightens government control
A new civil universities law approved late last year by the Shura Council, the Egyptian parliament's upper house, is set to tighten the government's grip on higher education. The law provides for the creation of 17 new non-profit universities and makes the Ministry of Higher Education responsible for appointing half the institutions' boards of directors. The other half will be left up to the universities' founders and investors to select.
NIGERIA: Renovations suspended at teaching hospitals
Crucial renovations at 12 academic hospitals in Nigeria by two Austrian medical engineering firms, under contracts worth US$291 million, have ground to a halt following an alleged plan by "over-zealous" officials in the Ministry of Health to re-award the contracts to other firms. The companies have gone to court claiming breach of contract. Lecturers and students at medical colleges affiliated with the hospitals are concerned and President Musa Yar 'Adua has been called on to intervene.
SOUTH AFRICA: The politics of higher education
Power changed hands within South Africa's ruling African National Congress a year ago, and national elections are looming. What the new ruling elite will mean for higher education is unsure, but the hot political issues this year look set to include teacher education and student fees, says Dr Cheryl de la Rey, chief executive officer of the statutory advisory Council on Higher Education.
ZIMBABWE: Brain drain project suffers brain drain
A Unesco-sponsored initiative to stem the academic brain drain in five African countries faces collapse in Zimbabwe - as a result of the flight of lecturers. An end of year report by the vice-chancellor's office at Chinhoyi University of Technology said academic staff trained in grid computing as part of the initiative had left the institution for safer - pastures.
EGYPT: Court bans police from campus
In a ruling applauded by academics as historic, an Egyptian court has banned the presence of police guards on the campus of Cairo University, the nation's most prestigious university. The Administrative Court also obliged the university administration to set up a security unit of civilian personnel, saying that the presence of police on the campus was a violation of the Egyptian constitution and independence of universities.
ZIMBABWE: Cholera greater threat than police
"Police stop beating students" demands a sign across one of the main gates of the University of Zimbabwe, the country's oldest university. The sign has been there for close to five years, says Wadzanai Rugare, a vendor who sells fruit and sweets to students outside the gate. It is a plea from students who are routinely harassed, arrested and tortured by a notorious police force determined to subdue a restive population fed up with President Robert Mugabe's 28-year-old autocratic rule. But the greatest threat they currently face is cholera.
NIGERIA: Law lecturers reject new faculties
Professor Funsho Adaramola, dean of law at Lagos State University, frowns on the establishment of law faculties in newly created public and private universities in Nigeria. Adaramola believes the move breaches legal provisions regulating setting up new law faculties, and other law lecturers have supported him. Meanwhile, there are fears among members of the councils of new universities that the National Universities Commission (NUC) might not accredit their faculties and they are moving to prevent possible closures.
WEST AFRICA: Universities discuss quality assurance
The Bologna higher education structure and systems for classification, evaluation and support of universities were among issues discussed by academics, researchers, directors and managers from French-speaking higher education establishments of West Africa and Madagascar last month during a conference on quality assurance.
EU-AFRICA: African participation in Erasmus Mundus
Since its launch in 2004, 866 African students have benefited from Europe's Erasmus Mundus programme, with a strong increase in the past two years. The participation of African scholars has also risen each year, from four in 2004 to 51 in 2008. Last week, at a gathering of major African and European universities, experts and Erasmus Mundus alumni students in Brussels, an African Chapter of the programme's alumni association was launched.
ANGOLA: Cuba, Brazil offer study and science support
Cuba will send teachers to Angola to train personnel in a variety of fields, and 1,000 Angolan students will go to the Caribbean republic to study during the next five years, it was announced during a five-day visit to Angola by the Cuban Minister for Higher Education, Juan Vela Valdęs. Angola has also entered a partnership with Brazil for technological cooperation.
ZAMBIA: MPs slam exam leakages and interference
Leakages of examination papers are threatening to have a negative impact on educational standards at Zambia's institutions of higher learning, a parliamentary committee has claimed.
The committee also decried political interference in the running of institutions of higher learning in the African country.
TUNISIA: World Bank approves progress on reforms
Representatives of the World Bank were in Tunis last month to discuss cooperation with the government in the fields of higher education and research. On the agenda were evaluation and quality systems, closer links with needs of business, development of courses responding to employment needs and reforms to bring university programmes into line with international criteria, reported Tunisia Online.
SOUTH AFRICA: Academic freedom at risk
South Africa needs to have a proper, open discussion about academic freedom, say academics. The international and South African academic community is outraged over the way the University of KwaZulu-Natal has treated two of its academics who criticised vice-chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba in the media, writes Sue Blaine in Business Day.
EGYPT: Public university leaders to be replaced
A recent decision by the Egyptian government to replace the current heads of public universities and college deans has drawn angry reaction from these leaders, who deny having political links with the former regime. And academics have vowed to continue protesting until further demands are met.
SOUTH AFRICA: Intellectual property rights failing
South Africa's current intellectual property rights regime is failing to support the national system of innovation and is actively disadvantaging local inventors while facilitating exploitation by foreign interests, according to new research to be published in the September edition of the South African Journal of Science.
NIGERIA: ICT aids testing of 1.5 million candidates
Nigeria's Joint Admission and Matriculation Board has employed technology to improve administration of its entrance examination for the 1.5 million candidates struggling to gain admission into higher education institutions next October. Among the feats recorded this year was the release of the exam results within four working days.
SOUTH AFRICA: Researcher collaborates with Ben-Gurion
A University of Johannesburg (UJ) academic will continue research on water purification with Israel's Ben-Gurion University, despite the severing of ties between the two universities in March this year.
NIGERIA: Vice-chancellors kidnapped in wave of violence
The former and current vice-chancellors of two universities have been kidnapped and the deputy registrar of a third institution murdered in a wave of violence that has hit campuses in the Niger Delta, the oil-rich region of Nigeria, in recent months. The spate of violence and atmosphere of fear has prompted the government to put security measures in place.
AFRICA: Relevance = financial support, says e-forum
Universities in Africa should become more locally-relevant, connecting aggressively to the private sector and communities and researching pressing issues, an Africa-US e-consultation involving more than 750 higher education participants - including 205 from 31 African countries - has suggested. Resource-strapped institutions would be more able to attract substantial financial support in the long term by providing clear benefits to their constituents.
AFRICA: Conference calls for higher education fund
Delegates from 27 countries attending the Regional Conference on Higher Education in Africa have called for an endowment fund for higher education, and heard of African Union plans to establish a doctoral school in each of the six regions of Africa.
AFRICA: Researchers lag in science and technology
African researchers produce only 1.8% of the world's total scholarly publications - half as many as Latin America and substantially less than India - according to a forthcoming article in the journal Scientometrics on the state of science and technology across the continent. South Africa and Egypt produced half of all Africa's internationally recognised publications between 2000 and 2004, while 88% of inventive activity was concentrated in South Africa.
EGYPT: Universities vs academics on e-education
Egypt's public universities have unveiled a plan to computerise their curricula and ways of instruction - but the online move has met with criticism from professors and students. The Ministry of Higher Education said months ago it would make lectures and syllabuses available on the internet as part of a scheme to develop education, and now e-education facilities have been set up in state institutions.
ZIMBABWE: Student protesters arrested and assaulted
Zimbabwean students have staged nationwide demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe's failure to form an all-inclusive government to extricate the country from economic and political crises that have caused educational standards to plummet. Five students were arrested in second city Bulawayo, while in the capital Harare two students were abducted, assaulted and dumped in bush outside the city by suspected state agents.
MALAWI: Court bars controversial quota system
A Malawian court has issued an order barring the University of Malawi from implementing a controversial quota system deemed discriminatory by students. The system, which involves students being selected into higher education on the basis of district or region rather than straight merit, was outlawed by the judiciary 15 years ago but reintroduced this year.