Another graduation milestone for Pan African University

The graduation last month of 26 inaugural masters students from the Pan African University’s Institute of Water and Energy Sciences in Algeria marked another milestone in the actualisation of the African Union-backed institution – and built on successful graduations at the university’s institutes in Kenya, Cameroon and Nigeria.

The 26 students from 12 countries who commenced their studies in September 2014 at the Institute of Water and Energy Sciences or PAUWES, based at the University of Tlemcen in Algeria, graduated in specialisations ranging from energy and water engineering to climate change. They join a critical pool of African-trained experts.

“The first graduation of the PAUWES institute comes at a time when many African countries are confronted with challenges in meeting the water and energy resource needs of their populations, as well as mitigating the impact of climate change and variability,” said the African Union or AU in a statement.

The graduation ceremony on 27 October was presided over by Dr Martial De-Paul Ikounga, the AU commissioner for human resources, science and technology.

During the 2015-16 academic year, PAUWES admitted 48 students and is expected to enrol 81 new students representing 25 different nationalities for the 2016-17 academic year.

It is recruiting 21 short-term lecturers to teach programmes that include human rights, gender, communication, marketing and networking. Those recruited must be professors or hold a PhD qualification and have a minimum of five years of teaching experience.

The institute has roped in the government of Germany as a thematic partner to enrich its curriculum, in a tripartite cooperation arrangement that also includes the host government and the AU.

Fourth successful node

With its latest graduation, PAUWES becomes the fourth of the Pan African Union or PAU nodes to successfully train postgraduate students.

The Institute of Basic Science, Technology and Innovation or PAUSTI, based at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology in Kenya, and the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences or PAULESI, at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, have each graduated two cohorts of masters students.

The Institute for Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences or PAUGHSS, based at the University of Yaoundé II in Cameroon, saw its pioneer cohort of 51 masters students graduate on 30 March, with 41 graduates obtaining qualifications in governance and regional integration and 10 graduating in conference interpretation and translation, reported the AU.

In August Kenya’s PAUSTI published a list of 125 students who had won scholarships to undertake masters and doctoral studies for the 2016-17 academic year. The students – the institute's third batch – were scheduled to commence studies this month, said a statement.

The Ibadan-based PAULESI expects 107 new fellows on 21 November, ready to commence studies for the 2016-17 academic year – also its third batch.

For its part Cameroon’s PAUGHSS is set to admit masters students later this year – unlike Kenya’s PAUSTI, it does not yet accept PhD students.

“PAUGHSS offers masters programmes in governance and regional integration, conference interpretation and translation, with plans to introduce many more programmes in the masters as well as PhD streams in the short- and medium-term”, the AU said in a statement last April.

Uncertainty down south

A fifth node – the Institute for Space Sciences – was due to be hosted by a university in South Africa and was expected to come online in January. However, according to a statement released this month by the African Union Commission, a “negotiation process” is still underway between it and the South African government.