Project to modernise universities after years of closure

With the need for Côte d’Ivoire to rebuild its higher education and research system following violent crises that closed public universities for two years, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has asked the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, or AUF, to lead a project to modernise and reform the system.

The partnership between the AUF, the ministry and higher education institutions was signed in October 2013, and AUF’s participation was officially launched in May this year.

The project concerns five public universities – Félix Houphouët-Boigny and Nangui Abrogoua in the capital Abidjan, Alassane Ouattara in Bouaké, Peleforo Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo, and Jean Lorougnon Guédé in Daloa – and two grandes écoles, the École Normale Supérieure of Abidjan and the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Yamoussoukro.

Under the agreement, reforms cover institutions’ governance, introduction of the ‘LMD’ – licence-master-doctorat, the structure based on the Bologna process with three, five and eight years of higher education – development of information and communication technologies, updating university administration and the management of libraries.

Each component is scheduled to take 24 months.

On governance, the AUF will train personnel to carry out audits, and develop strategic policy plans and management and monitoring tools.

On LMD, the AUF has undertaken to help institutions to harmonise and professionalise their courses, so they conform to international standards and take into account the needs of graduate employment and of the socio-economic reconstruction of the country. The agency will also set up an interactive LMD information website.

On digital education, AUF will strengthen the skills of ICT teachers with introduction of new methods. The agency will also provide training for producing digital resources online.

On modernising university administration, AUF will offer training for staff to set up and improve systems and networks, and the agency will introduce a certificate to confirm their skills. And on university libraries and resource centres, AUF will raise staff proficiency with training in operating integrated library software.

The project follows the crisis that hit the public higher education system when universities erupted in violence due to the disputed presidential election in 2010. They remained closed until September 2012.

* The AUF has also entered a partnership with the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, or IRD, to strengthen North-South scientific exchanges.

The two organisations will jointly finance projects in global changes, biodiversity and health in the rainforest regions of Central Africa, areas of research that they have in common.

In its four-year programme covering 2014-17 the AUF is promoting international research in emerging issues, with plans to develop university networks relevant to social, scientific and technological innovation. Its Afrique Centrale et des Grands-Lacs bureau is supporting research, centred in Central Africa’s tropical forests, with about 30 member institutions.

The IRD is committed to research on international development issues with partners in the South.

Its regional programme Changements globaux, biodiversité et santé en zone forestières d’Afrique centrale – Global Changes, Biodiversity and Health in the Forest Zones of Central Africa – aims to predict and act upon environmental climate and anthropogenic changes in these zones.