New DAAD programme supports HE reform in the MENA region

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has launched a new programme supporting reform efforts in higher education in partner countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Focusing on strengthening and consolidating existing activities in the region, Ta’ziz is also meant to integrate extra-university partners to boost knowledge transfer between academia and society, and seeks to enhance the social role of women and young adults.

It consists of three sub-programmes to be run with partners in Tunisia, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, Libya and Morocco.

Ta’ziz short-term measures enable the development of collaborative schemes and knowledge exchange between the universities involved and extra-university partners, while Ta’ziz academic cooperation schemes are partnerships aimed at contributing to structural change in the partner countries’ higher education and research systems. These projects combine teaching and research as well as higher education management activities.

The third sub-programme features the Ta’ziz Networks, sometimes spreading across several countries in the region, which are meant to bring together partners from the academic sector, civil society, industry and public administration to focus on certain subject areas. They are aimed at developing science communication and knowledge transfer. In all, 47 projects have been granted funding so far.

Partnership for democracy established

The DAAD has been tracking political and social developments in the MENA region since 2012.

“Ten years after the upheavals of the Arab Spring, many hopes have not been fulfilled. Changes in the countries concerned range from democratic awakening to the restoration of authoritarian regimes, open armed conflict and utter collapse,” it said in a statement on its website.

In view of these widely varying developments and setbacks across the region, the Federal Foreign Office has reviewed funding programmes in the context of the “Transformation Partnership with the Arab World and Scientific Partnerships with Transition Countries in North Africa/the Middle East”, established in 2012. These programmes have since been re-launched as the Ta’ziz Partnership for Democracy.

As part of this overall concept, the new DAAD programme builds on results gathered in cooperation between German universities and their partners in the region over the last ten years.

The chief emphasis is on strengthening academic freedom, supporting reform efforts made by the partner institutions, and boosting participatory approaches and communication and exchange between academia and society.

“The Federal Foreign Office is continuing its support for democracy, good governance and the rule of law in the region under the banner of the Ta’ziz Partnership. The focus is more strongly on countries in which democratic transition processes are actively underway,” the Foreign office statement says.

To contact Michael Gardner, e-mail michael.gardner@uw-news.com