EGYPT-FRANCE: Boost to higher education cooperation

Egypt and France have agreed to boost collaboration between higher education institutions in the fields of science and technology. An agreement was signed by Egyptian Higher Education Minister Hani Helal and his French counterpart, Valérie Pécresse, at the 25th Africa-France summit held in the south-eastern French city of Nice from 31 May to 1 June.

The agreement includes the Institut Gustave Roussy in France and Egypt's Ain Shams University - they will collaborate in tumor research studies.

It also includes the Cultural Office of the Egyptian Embassy in Paris and ESIT - the Ecole Supérieure d'Interprètes et de Traducteurs, Université Paris III. They will exchange information and work on upgrading research and education programmes

This agreement is part of the activities of the 2010 [url= style=original]French Egyptian Year of Science and Technology[url/], which aims to enhance links between research and higher education institutions in Egypt and abroad.

These aims are being realised through axes of cooperation during the year including twinning of a number of research centers, developing joint research agreements to be supported by joint research funds, and organising networking events.

France is the fifth leading host country for Egyptians studying abroad. Moreover, Franco-Egyptian university cooperation is based on the 'French-speaking university cluster', which groups together 1,200 students at the French University in Egypt, French-language courses of study established in Egypt's biggest universities and the Senghor University in Alexandria.

In 2006, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak declared the Egyptian Decade of Science and Technology (2007-16) aimed at enhancing S&T in Egypt and at establishing a knowledge- based economy.

The decade is shaped into a successive years of S&T cooperation with various countries and regions around the world: 2007 was the year of science and technology with Germany, followed by Japan in 2008, Italy in 2009, France in 2010 and US in 2011.

At the summit in Nice, 38 African leaders and 250 business executives gathered to among other things develop better business relations between France and Africa and tackle tensions between climate change and the need for development in Africa.

France also announced plans to set up a US$120 million fund to promote African agriculture and achieve food security, according to the summit communiqué. It is hoped that the investor fund will reach R300 million. More than 265 million people are malnourished and 30% of people suffer from hunger in Africa, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.