GERMANY: Promoting excellence for development

Five German universities and their partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America are to receive up to EUR5 million each over the next five years to boost their joint activities. The German institutions have come out as the winners of a competition involving 44 projects in all. The Excellence for Development initiative is being run by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to promote cooperation with developing countries.

"Education is essential for development, and universities form a basis of development. This is why we are promoting research for development and academic networks between institutions in developing and industrialised countries," said Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, announcing the winners in Berlin last month. "Together, they are to become centres of excellence for the Millennium Development Goals."

DAAD General Secretary Christian Bode explained that "German academics and students are going to engage in research and teaching at eye level together with their partners in the south to address the urgent challenges of the future."

Wieczorek-Zeul and Bode expect these efforts to result in reinforcing higher education structures in the developing countries as well as enhancing the status of development cooperation at institutions in Germany.

The winning projects focus on topics relating to the goals. With their partners, the German universities will establish a think-tank to provide knowledge relevant to the developing countries and Germany. Working in partnership is to enhance the institutions involved as well as integrating them in the international knowledge-based society.

The competitive exercise involved two stages, with preliminary proposals submitted to DAAD up to mid-January. These were assessed by an international committee of experts and 13 shortlisted applicants were then requested to hand in full proposals that were reviewed by the experts in a final selection.

The winners were chosen on the grounds of their previous work as well as the viability of their programme. Cross-cutting aspects included the extent of activities in the south, the width of impact that measures were having in Germany and in the developing countries, links with partners in industry, politics and the media and the innovative character of the concepts.

To see details of the various projects click here