SOUTH AFRICA: African Doctoral Academy launched

Promoting human development by helping to counter the effects of the graduate brain drain and the decline of scholarship in Africa are the cornerstones of the African Doctoral Academy, which was formally launched this week at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

The African Doctoral Academy, or ADA, has been conceptualised and is being implemented in close collaboration with a number of partner universities in Africa, including the universities of Botswana, Dar es Salaam, Makerere, Malawi and Nairobi.

The academy is a capacity-building initiative aimed at providing high-level training and support to current and prospective doctoral students in science fields, as well as providing accredited training to doctoral supervisors.

ADA Director Professor Johann Mouton (pictured) said the initiative aims to provide the highest quality research methodology and theory training to current and prospective doctoral candidates in all fields.

Mouton said to build and hone the supervisory knowledge and competencies of supervisors is also of prime concern while building new partnerships in research, scholarship and doctoral training in Africa.

The ADA's first Summer School in Research Methods, presented in partnership with the International Political Science Association, ran from 17-28 January.

Professor Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University, said the ADA would provide skills needed in the global knowledge economy of the information age.

"We need resourceful and engaged, knowledgeable workers to help us unlock and exploit our potential as a continent," said Botman.

South African Science Minister Naledi Pandor said as a continent Africa needed to do more to promote science, mathematics and technology - and advances in all fields of study should be part of policy.

"We have to do much more because we are not doing enough," said Pandor.

She said the academy would offer significant benefits and opportunities to African students in terms of research and innovation.

"We hope that what you learn will assist you and others in educating a new generation of African mathematicians and scientists," Pandor said, adding that economic development and future prosperity do not rest on independent and isolated actions and activities but require regional planning and interventions.

Botman said the ADA was part of Stellenbosch's three-pronged strategy to help regenerate scholarship and research on the continent, the first being the Graduate School in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, which recruits students and coordinates their studies. The arts faculty, which opened this month, has 31 full-time doctoral students on scholarships, 22 of whom are from outside South Africa.

Capacity building provided by the ADA is the second part of the strategy. The third component is the Partnership for Africa's Next Generation of Academics, or PANGeA.