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.
The deaths in Nigeria of two medical doctors associated with teaching hospitals, both victims of the dreaded Ebola virus in the horrifying outbreak of the disease in West Africa, has created panic and unsettled nerves on campuses.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, once a student of the arts but now a champion of science, has advised universities funded by the government to develop more science courses and to drop many in the arts and humanities.
The decision by Egyptian authorities to postpone the start of the new academic year by two weeks has drawn sustained criticism from lecturers and students. Minister of Higher Education Sayed Abdel Khaleq said universities would open their gates on 11 October instead of 27 September as scheduled.
Foreign students from large, fast-growing cities in emerging markets who are enrolled in universities and colleges in the United States contribute significant financial and social benefits and skills to their new metropolitan destinations, according to the Global Cities Initiative, a groundbreaking joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.
Five cities – Lagos, Nairobi, Accra, Addis Ababa and Cairo – are the home towns of the largest contingents of African foreign students studying in universities and colleges in the United States, according to a report from the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.
A highly selective system of tracking students into general and vocational secondary education quite early, based on high-stakes national examinations, has significantly contributed to inequities in access to higher education and learning achievement in Egypt, says a new World Bank study.
Following the massive failure of students in pre-university examinations, Nigeria’s influential daily newspaper The Guardian – in a rare front-page editorial – urged the authorities to declare a state of emergency in education. The vast majority of university lecturers supported the newspaper’s call.
Kenya is seeking private investors to set up an ambitious online university to ease an enrolment crisis. After a three-year shortfall in funding – which saw the government raise only US$282,300 for the US$36 million project – it has changed course regarding finance.
Egypt’s professional unions have warned against an increase in numbers of new students attending the country’s schools of pharmacology and dentistry, saying that graduates of both majors already surpass the market needs.