An International Network for Research in Citizenship Education has been launched at a conference held in Marrakech, Morocco, earlier this month. The network’s aim is to advance the contributions of higher education to democracy on campuses and in wider society.
Plans by one of Kenya’s biggest universities to establish a fully-fledged college of health sciences are being frustrated by an ongoing land-grab by more than 2,000 squatters who are occupying property on which Kenyatta University plans to build a teaching hospital.
A TV exposé last week unearthed a certificate and diploma mill at one of Kenya’s leading aviation colleges. It also uncovered widespread rot in higher education institutions, many of which engage in academic malpractices and some of which are dishing out qualifications without requiring a person to step into a classroom or study.
Ebola and HIV-Aids may have disappeared from the agenda of many international news organisations, but they are critical issues for teachers and health experts in Africa working to use education to combat epidemics and improve the health of citizens, said participants at the Second UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education held in Paris from 28-30 January.
Turkey and Sudan have unveiled a higher education cooperation plan that includes setting up a joint institution, networking among universities in the two countries and mutual recognition of degrees aimed at enhancing student and academic mobility.
The University of Ghana has been awarded DKK9 million (US$1.4 million) in funding under the second phase of the Danish Building Stronger Universities programme – a partnership between universities in developing countries and in Denmark.
Somalia’s higher education sector has been growing rapidly. However, lack of government oversight, low quality, high levels of poverty, political instability and security challenges have been hindering reforms. A new prime minister has raised hopes – but is likely to be distracted by numerous other pressing problems.
Egypt’s higher education authorities have started reviewing the cases of scores of students expelled from universities for alleged participation in violent anti-government protests. More than 50 students have already been reinstated.
Education fairs held annually in Nigerian cities are attracting attention for potentially harbouring fraudsters. The fairs, aimed at students seeking admission to universities abroad, have mushroomed in response to the exodus of Nigerian students seeking quality education in other countries. According to the British Council, in the UK alone there are nearly 18,000 Nigerian students.
The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie has launched two higher education initiatives aimed at French-speaking African and other developing countries. They are to introduce massive open online courses in partnership with the Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and to establish an ‘equality for women’ network to counter gender discrimination in universities. The agency has also extended to Senegal a distance teacher-training venture to improve the skills of schoolteachers of, and in, French.
Kenya has extended an extra US$2.7 million to the Pan African University for the construction of facilities at its campus near Nairobi – the Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, or PAUSTI – one of five regional ‘nodes’ being developed across the continent. Last month the campus graduated its first ever masters students.
Niger is seeking to enhance higher education by opening four new universities, each specialising in an area key to development. The West African country’s universities continue to face challenges, but experts hail the development as a boost to the education system.
On arriving in Cairo from his village in Egypt’s Delta last month to start studies as a medical freshman at the state-run Al-Azhar University, Omar Mahrus was in for a shock. On asking when he could move into the university's state-subsidised dormitories, Mahrus was told that no date had been set for re-opening the facility.
The four university-based unions in Nigeria recently held their first joint national education summit in Abuja, the federal capital. The main objective was to take stock of education and training since independence 54 years ago, and by the end of the summit a realistic ‘road map’ had been produced to tackle problems in the sector.
There has been an enthusiastic response to the two-year Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, which connects African-born academics working in North America to universities in six African countries. The second round of diaspora academics will begin travelling to Africa next month.
Kenya’s Commission for University Education has published a list of more than 1,000 approved programmes at universities, in an effort to end rows over unaccredited courses and learners obtaining degrees that are not recognised. But the move has not resolved a row over professional bodies rejecting some degrees, which has led to violent student protests and the closure of three institutions.
Questions are being asked about the quality and integrity of an undergraduate degree being offered by a Kenyan Christian university, which is popular with politicians and adult learners and can apparently be completed in a couple of years.
A new law in Egypt allowing military trials for students accused of attacking university facilities has raised concerns among academics and rights advocates about freedoms in the country. Universities have been rocked by violent protests blamed on Islamist students since the new semester began on 11 October.
Private universities in Nigeria have stepped up efforts to secure financial support from both the federal and regional governments. The private institutions argue that they are fulfilling responsibilities similar to those of public universities that have access to government funds.
Higher education in Morocco continues to attract an increasing number of students and new universities have opened. But a critic of government policies has highlighted problems including lack of lecturers, stagnation of research, and reforms that have not been carried out.
Morocco is considering a number of higher education reforms, including grouping big universities together into ‘hubs’ to increase their visibility, promoting research and making mastering English compulsory for students wanting admission to science universities.
Kenyan university students resumed studies in late September after highly disruptive, countrywide street protests over an unprecedented delay in the disbursement of student loans.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union has demanded the withdrawal of a PhD awarded last month to the wife of President Robert Mugabe, arguing that it is not credible. First lady Grace Mugabe stands accused of having registered at the University of Zimbabwe in July this year and completing her PhD thesis last month, in a record two months.
Tunisia has officially unveiled an economic development mega-project that will house research and science, university and medical ‘cities’ and will include a range of research centres, science institutes and branches of foreign universities.
A private university in Kenya is facing an auction of some of its prime property by banks and several other institutions are in financial trouble, in what some fear is a signal that the rapid expansion of higher education in the country has reached a sustainability limit.