Africa-Japan plan to boost teaching in universities

An initiative aimed at strengthening the teaching of science, technology and innovation, as well as sustainable development, at five African universities will be launched later this year by the African Development Bank, or AfDB, and the United Nations University.

The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding in mid-2013 that will link the public universities in Africa to the United Nations University, or UNU, in Japan and the University of Tokyo in a knowledge transfer programme.

Under the memorandum signed by the bank’s president, Donald Kaberuka, and the UNU rector, Professor David Malone, the two bodies will also establish a joint Africa-Asia strategic plan for sustainable development, which will include a programme of activities for capacity building in Africa.

They hope to promote knowledge transfer as part of the AfDB’s 2013-22 strategy for human capacity development, which also supports the creation of knowledge networks to strengthen science, technology and innovation in Africa, the bank said in a statement.

Collaborating African universities in the project under the Consortium of Universities on Sustainable Development in Africa, or CUSDA, include the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University for Development Studies in Ghana.

Others are the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University in Kenya, the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, the University of Zambia and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

The institutions will partner with UNU’s Institute for Sustainability and Peace and the University of Tokyo’s graduate programme in sustainability science in the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences.

According to Kaberuka, the AfDB has identified partnerships with foreign universities as central to its strategy for human capacity development across Africa.

The bank, UNU and Japan’s Ministry of Education will provide funding and also help to facilitate more funding for the initiative.

Under the agreement, lecturers and faculty heads in participating universities will be introduced to the latest trends in science, technology, innovation and sustainable development, as taught by UNU and the University of Tokyo.

The Japan-based institutions will also fund visits to Africa by their lecturers, as well as visits to Japan by African academics.