Rectors draft proposals to modernise higher education

The heads of the seven public higher education institutions in Côte d’Ivoire have drafted proposals for a strategic higher education modernisation plan, in the wake of years of national crises and university closures.

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

Côte d’Ivoire’s universities suffered two ‘blank’ years after they closed during violent unrest following the disputed 2010 presidential election.

They reopened in September 2012, and the partnership between the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie or AUF, the ministry of higher education and research and universities to rebuild and modernise the higher education and research system was signed in 2013.

The plan

Representatives met this month to present the institutions’ proposals for the plan, which comes under the AMRUGE-CI – Appui à la Modernisation et à la Réforme des Universités et Grandes Écoles de Côte d’Ivoire – project to support modernisation and reform of universities and grandes écoles of Côte d’Ivoire, reported Fraternité Matin of Abidjan.

Among challenges to be resolved under the plan were those of normalising universities’ schedules following their reopening, when four years of student intakes arrived all at once.

Others were involvement of universities in the development of local towns, regions and neighbouring areas, and integrating some activities – such as institutional emails to contact graduates and to increase their employment opportunities, reported Fraternité Matin.

Production of the plan was financed by the AUF within the framework of the Contract of Debt Relief and Development, or C2D, between Côte d’Ivoire and France, reported Le Patriote.

AUF representative Laurent Cortese said that nearly FCFA180 billion (US$313 million) of the C2D funding had been allocated to the ‘education and training’ sector, more than a third of which was for higher education, reported Le Patriote.

Cortese stressed it was important that the project undertaken more than a year ago should succeed with validating institutions’ plans before moving on to the next step of the process.

At the end of the meeting Professor Yvon Fontaine, president of the experts appointed by AUF, said it was hoped the seven plans would be validated by 17 June. He suggested the higher education ministry should negotiate signing the contract with universities and examine conditions for increasing institutional autonomy.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.