Africa News
A backlog of unpaid bursaries dating back up to three years, irregularities in the management of the funds by some government officials and the allocations’ lack of buying power are fuelling calls from Nigerian student organisations and experts to rethink this form of financial aid to poor students.
There is a need for greater investment in research and development, including in the work done by higher education institutions, as well as for the promotion of science and technology-led innovation ecosystems in the world’s least-developed countries, which should link science, technology and innovation to socio-economic priorities and sustainable development.
Young people from the world’s 46 least-developed countries or LDCs have called upon member states, development partners and the global community to enhance their access to education and decent employment and entrepreneurship. They also asked for support for youth movements, human rights and global citizenship education training.
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied seemed to be rolling back on his determination to impose “urgent measures” to reduce what he called the “hordes” of Sub-Saharan migrants, but black students say nothing has changed for them. The president remains under pressure to apologise for ‘racialised hate speech’.
Kamel Bedari, Algeria’s minister of higher education and scientific research, has announced that 560 student projects have been authorised to become startups, to boost the country’s socio-economic success at national level. He made the announcement during a visit to the University of Oran-2 Mohamed Ben Ahmed.
Just over a month ago, Senegalese Professor Mouhamed Moustapha Fall was named the 2022 winner of the Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians in Developing Countries. On International Day of Mathematics, observed on 14 March, he spoke to University World News about his research and community work.
Universities in Africa should establish research data repositories to archive important information gathered over time for posterity purposes, an important tool that can serve as an alternative to and complement open-access publishing, a webinar on ‘Understanding Open Science and Research Data Management’ heard.
To enhance the impact of Africa-Europe science, technology and innovation cooperation, it is necessary to focus on building capacities for long-term win-win partnerships that are co-founded, co-managed, co-owned and co-financed with an understanding of institutional and country contexts, along with respect for local knowledge and needs.
South Africa is facing a visa crisis which is affecting students and universities. The country needs officials who can process applications quickly and with the utmost professionalism. The support of the government is needed to streamline and increase transparency in visa processes to prevent higher education internationalisation from being undermined.
The changing of some Nigerian currency notes by the government has been hitting citizens, including students, hard since the beginning of 2023. Some students have complained that the development has caused them hunger and resulted in them missing lectures and poor attendance, as well as lateness in getting to class.
In a country where about 20% of female students have experienced gender-based violence, access to support services after trauma is paramount to help them complete their studies. This is why South Africa’s Nelson Mandela University has launched a chapter of the Alumni-in-Action initiative, first started at the University of Cape Town.
Campus protests should be recognised as a critical method for “seizing, disrupting, subverting and transforming the space and imagination of the university and society, which it has historically been and continues to be”, the authors of a study interrogating campus protests over two decades in Africa have said.
African countries have been urged to harness science, innovation and state-of-the-art emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence in the coming 10 years to achieve the objectives of sustainable development. This is contained in the Niamey Declaration following the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.
Egypt has launched a higher education and scientific research strategy to upgrade higher education institutions and develop Egyptian Universities 4.0 for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Egypt’s Vision 2030. Some are sceptical about the system’s readiness to move in this direction.
Stakeholders, including academics, researchers and policy-makers in Tanzania, intend to adopt open science and present the plan to the government and implementation partners for funding. However, the decision to make research more accessible means they also have to deal with several challenges.
Students from Sub-Saharan African countries may abandon their studies in Tunisian universities and colleges in the wake of the mass arrests of compatriots, xenophobic attacks and racial violence. Some embassies have asked their citizens to stay home. Others have started repatriation efforts.
Students from Rwanda’s Integrated Polytechnic Regional Colleges as well as former graduates now stand a chance to advance their education following an announcement by government that technical and vocational education and training colleges will also be offering Bachelor of Technology qualifications.
Students from Sub-Saharan Africa are being recruited in their numbers and the competition for students is increasing, with indicators predicting that the region’s 430,000 outwardly mobile students will double by 2050. Nigerian students, the biggest group of international students, opt for the UK and US, while francophone students choose France.
The African Library and Information Associations and Institutions, in cooperation with the online open-access repository Figshare, has launched a new initiative to support awareness of open science and data repositories as well as to support the research and education communities in Africa.
Africa continues to suffer from wealth and gender disparities when it comes to tertiary education. This is evident from the “highly variable quality” of private tertiary education institutions along with low levels of investment, facts that emerged from the first edition of a joint UNESCO-African Union education report.
The National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe reversed a 100% fee hike on 27 February after students staged a demonstration against it. Braving drizzling weather, student protesters barricaded the walk-in entrance to the university with stones and tree branches and instructed students who were reporting for lectures to return home.
A comprehensive national strategy to develop doctoral education and training in Uganda is urgent – and may also be needed in other African countries. The call emanates from a study about doctoral training, and its findings may also be relevant to other countries on the continent.
Madagascar’s Higher Education and Scientific Research ministry has banned bizutage – student initiation rituals (‘hazing’) – and unauthorised university sporting events, following violence and the destruction of property, including a fire, at the University of Mahajanga. In 2016 and 2017, fires also caused problems at the same institution.
The African Union’s condemnation of Israel’s “colonial” practices against Palestine, its suspension of Israel’s observer status and its request that its 55 member states cut scientific and cultural ties with Israel have drawn vocal support from the academic community in North Africa which also, alongside South Africa, in 2021 protested loudly when Israel received observer status at the pan-African body.
A consortium of nine American and European universities led by the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge has won a US$35 million grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations for research work in Africa – an initiative that is raising eyebrows over the level of participation of local collaborators.
Just like their peers across the world, researchers in Nigerian universities have joined the conversation about the use of AI chatbots in higher education institutions. Researchers believe there is no cause for alarm, encouraging people to look more on the bright side of the emergence of AI chatbots.
The Moroccan university is witnessing a value and trust erosion, according to a study that focused on, among others, the role of schools and universities in raising future citizens. The study indicated that institutions face several educational, administrative and moral challenges that hinder their performance as “value builders”.
The non-academic employees of Morocco’s 13 public universities participated in strikes and sit-ins in front of the ministry of higher education, scientific research and innovation in Rabat to protest their unsatisfactory working conditions and their exclusion from the academic statute.
When the 2022-23 academic year started in Cameroon’s universities, Rose Amandy, a second-year law student at the University of Yaoundé II in Soa was surprised at the sharp increase in the prices of basic commodities at the local market near campus. The government has now indicated that it may intervene to support students.
On university campuses in Nigeria students have been feeling the impact of an economy in which the naira appears to have been in free fall and food inflation has increased by at least 400% from 2015. On university campuses, students have been going hungry.
Confusion reigned last Friday over the suspension of Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In a new twist to a long leadership controversy, it was reported that the council offered to drop all claims against her if Phakeng agreed to early retirement – but she refused.
Stark inequalities exist in the higher education research ecosystems across Commonwealth countries, with a new report revealing significant disparities in access to funding, research support systems and gender equity between universities in richer and lower-income nations.
An initiative that has been creating an enabler platform for university students in Africa to create content on Wikipedia in African languages to widen access to information about the region, has already yielded 200 articles in at least nine local languages, generating more than 150,000 views on the website.
A global study into the characteristics of celebrity or visible scientists across 16 countries during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that “visibility is related to scientists’ media skills and willingness to engage, as well as their ability to respond to criticism and cope with controversy”.
The Tunisian Observatory for Higher Education and Scientific Research is concerned about an increase in exam cheating – a risk that threatens the value of academic qualifications obtained by all students and the global standing of Tunisian universities. It has called on all roleplayers to take action.
Students from universities across Goma have been protesting against the closure of universities and are demanding that the government does more to restore peace in areas affected by conflict. At least 20 institutions have closed as hostilities between M23 rebels and the government army intensified, displacing about 520,000 people since March 2022.
The closure of tertiary education institutions in Nigeria for three weeks to enable voters to reach their voting districts has not been embraced by all students, many of whom are concerned about security risks as they travel long distances home by road to exercise their franchise.
Africa’s scholarly journals compete on an unequal playing field because of a lack of funding and the struggle to sustain academic credibility. These inequalities are exacerbated by the growing influence of the major citation indexes, say the authors of a new book.
Distance education can be used to increase the knowledge and awareness of postgraduate students and early-career researchers about predatory publishing and research ethics in under-resourced low- and middle-income countries. A study found that half of the respondents who received training in the field had no prior knowledge of predatory publishing.
Corruption is rife in Madagascan higher education – including students bribing their teachers. Students should be educated about the problem and how to combat it, delegates were told at a conference on ‘Strengthening integrity and fighting corruption in higher education’.
The strategically located and tiny East African state of Djibouti will be building a spaceport valued at US$1 billion funded by a Chinese company, which could see the first launch from the continent of an African-made satellite while it promotes the development of scientific expertise.
Only 1% of students seeking to be enrolled in Zimbabwe’s medical schools get placed due to an acute shortage of training facilities, resulting in limited access to such training programmes. This emerged during a workshop organised by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Ghana’s obstetrics and gynaecology training, development and retention programme over the past 30 years has demonstrated the strengths and barriers of speciality training in low-resource settings and has the potential to serve as a model for international academic medicine partnerships. It can be adapted to other low-resource settings.
The first University Partnership Initiative Summit, hosted by the University of Pretoria in South Africa, has yielded insights into how the United States-South Africa Higher Education Network has built productive cross-continental partnerships and is navigating some of the difficulties that are inherent in such collaborations.
A Zimbabwean church is setting up a private university that will have several rural campuses in the country's Matabeleland region. The institution, expected to open in August 2023, will be named the University of Matopo, and will have sites in Matopo, Mtshabezi and Wanezi.
Three West African countries – Benin, the Gambia and Ivory Coast – with the support of the South Africa-based ethical research non-governmental organisation EthiXpert, have secured a €1.5 million (US$1.62 million) grant that will be used to build the capacity of research ethics committees in these countries.
The West African nation of Mauritania plans to set up a national observatory for innovation, an innovation hub and a fund to support economic development and its efforts to pursue the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These new projects are in line with Mauritania’s research and innovation strategy.
Ahead of a ground-breaking summit on partnerships at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa campus, the head of research capacity development at the University of Pretoria, Dr Rakeshnie Ramoutar-Prieschl, said international collaboration is increasingly viewed as the key to successful development research and to address shared global challenges.
The killings of university staff on and around South African university campuses have triggered some soul-searching among academics, which came to the fore during an Academy of Science of South Africa round-table discussion on 27 January. The academic project itself is under threat, some argued.
A multipurpose, three-block student complex, covering about 24,500 square metres and expected to accommodate 1,032 people, has been completed in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – five years after work started on the building. More projects are now planned for other towns housing educational institutions.
At least 14 academic and administrative staff members from the Université Officielle de Bukavu, or Official University of Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been dismissed after an internal audit revealed they possessed fake academic documents. Universities have been urged not to tolerate unethical behaviour.
The alarming spate of security incidents in Nigeria’s south-eastern region took a turn for the worst with armed robbers reportedly raping several female students of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, an institution located in the region, but the institution said the number of attacks was exaggerated.
Kenya’s former education cabinet secretary Professor George Albert Omore Magoha, 70, was probably best known for tackling difficult issues such as the misappropriation of public funds in the ministry of education. The former surgeon and vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi, died on 24 January.
Kenya is seeing the highest number of prospective university students in seven years in what could be a major boom for cash-strapped universities, or what could precipitate a crisis for places. In the meantime, the senate committee on education promised to probe the ‘unusual’ improvement in performance in some schools.
Construction of the University of San Pedro, a new institution in Côte d'Ivoire under President Alassane Ouattara’s priority higher education expansion strategy, is on schedule, as a delegation headed by Adama Diawara, the minister of higher education and scientific research, that visited this month to inspect progress, reported.
To regain legitimacy as a leading continental organisation, the African Union needs to decolonise itself and engage with and rely more on its member states to re-orientate its regional higher education policy processes to African issues instead of excessive financial dependency on external actors.
A study by Stellenbosch University and the City University of London has revealed that the relationship between South African science journalists and scientists, who are sources of information, is more complex than it appears. One challenge is the rise in science public relations.
On 25 February 2023, Nigeria will hold its seventh general election since its return to democracy in 1999. With 93 million registered voters, analysts say this is one of the country’s most highly anticipated elections in history. What could the outcome mean for the troubled higher education system?
A Work for Fees programme introduced by Zimbabwe’s government has helped some students who cannot afford to pay for their studies, but higher education stakeholders have pointed out that the programme cannot absorb all students who are in financial need and may not be an effective replacement for the student loan scheme.
Zimbabwean lecturers have undergone an ideological orientation training programme facilitated by the Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology, an institution run by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party, with plans under way to compel all first-year university students to also attend the lessons.
Nine private universities and higher education institutions from eight African countries have joined forces forming the Network for the Scientific Mobility of South-South Students, or RAMSESS. The aim is to develop higher education and scientific research ‘space’ through harmonising higher education systems.
Universities must focus on equipping their students with leadership and technical skills and foster collaborative and experimental forms of learning and knowledge production that can provide practical solutions to development challenges, according to Arturo Condo, the president of EARTH University in Costa Rica.
A number of poor students in federal government-run universities in Nigeria are facing disruptions in their studies in 2023 after many institutions increased their tuition fees by 100% to 200%. While the increment may force some underprivileged students out of school, others may have to defer their studies.
Tunisian university professors have participated in protests to demand an improvement in their working conditions, including salary increases, following correspondence from the ministry of higher education and scientific research that universities’ budgets may be cut by about 20%.
Academics based in 70 low- and middle-income countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia will be able to have their primary research published Gold Open Access by a selection of Nature journals – at no cost – thus enabling their work to be permanently and freely available online for anyone to read.
According to UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are severely affected by qualifications and skills mismatches, making it hard for employers to find suitable job applicants, or develop the ability to forecast potential skills imbalances.
If you are a white natural science graduate in South Africa, the chances are that you will find a job faster than your black and coloured counterparts. And if you graduate from certain universities, you are likely to have easier access to internships and, ultimately, employment, a study has found.
Egypt is establishing new branch campuses for international universities as part of its 2030 vision for sustainable development, and to become a transnational higher education hub. It has just agreed to establish two branch campuses for Canada-based Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology .
The government of Rwanda has intensified its efforts to recover loans from former beneficiaries – money it urgently needs to continue disbursing millions of francs in funds to academically deserving students who may need financial support for their higher education. A ministerial order targets those who have neglected to repay their loans.
There is a growing need to leverage human capital and invest in green skills among African youths as they are an essential component of building climate-resilient economies. This was the message during the launch of a climate change entrepreneurship centre at Ba Isago University in Botswana.
As the government moves to inject funds into infrastructure development in the higher education sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pressure is mounting on the minister of higher education to explain allegations over the embezzlement of millions of dollars. The investigation is ongoing.
Universities in South Africa are rapidly finalising first-year applications as the quality assurance body, Umalusi, on 16 January approved the results of the school-leaving examination written in 2022. The size of the cohort is expected to increase the demand for financial aid for tertiary education.
The academic community of Sudan’s 36 public universities has embarked on an indefinite strike from 10 January to protest about the military-led government’s omission of a new salary structure from the current year’s budget. The poor management of the national economy is part of the problem, academics say.