Africa News
Barely a week after lecturers and academic staff at the l’Institut Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques de Yangambi in Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo decided to halt teaching courses due to their alleged rampant mistreatment by the university, there appears to be little hope that academic activities will resume soon.
Two universities in Africa are included in the overall top 100 of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023, which are geared to assessing institutions’ contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and two placed first globally for their contributions to individual SDGs.
Universities and research organisations across Africa and Europe have called for a new science, technology and innovation framework for cooperation between the two continents to drive sustainable development. They say it should be grounded in academic excellence, sustainability, capacity building and scalability.
A new study on ways to end faculty shortages in universities in Africa is calling for an end to the duplication of academic programmes and abandoning the aggressive marketing of degrees and diplomas with “low academic rigour” – among measures that authorities could take to tame the crisis.
Universities and polytechnics in Nigeria produce about 600,000 graduates annually. These graduates continually seek worldwide exposure through admission to foreign institutions due to the country’s declining educational standards and employers’ growing preference for degrees earned abroad, but getting a transcript is a mission.
Higher education institutions and students in Eswatini are expected to feel the impact of a plan by the Eswatini Electricity Company to implement winter load-shedding due to an inadequate power supply. Blackouts affect students’ use of electronic devices for studying and threaten campus security, with sexual assault and theft reported during power cuts.
A serious shortage of skilled nutrition professionals exists in Africa, in general, and the Central African region, in particular – thus, governments and higher education authorities should drive policies that will strengthen human resource development in this field. This is necessary to combat malnutrition and hunger.
The South African higher education sector is highly unlikely to achieve its target of 75% of scholars across all 26 public universities having a PhD by 2030 at the current rates of growth, say scientometric researchers. However, some fields have surpassed the target.
The United Kingdom’s new policy that curbs the number of dependants that international students are allowed to bring along when pursuing their studies in UK universities is not going down well with Nigerians and may force them to seek alternatives. Data shows that 66,796 dependant visas were issued to families of Nigerian students from March 2022 to March 2023.
Private higher education institutions have a vital role to play in the development of Africa but, in order to be sustainable, they need to be successful, innovative and impactful. This was a core message conveyed at the third annual academic summit of the Honoris United Universities network in Cape Town, South Africa.
The realisation of a fully articulated higher education system in South Africa remains elusive, due to many complexities and a lack of policy implementation, according to a chapter published in the Council on Higher Education’s review of South African higher education 25 years into democracy.
The Association of African Universities has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Union of Food Science and Technology which will help Africa to strengthen its capacity to secure food for its citizens as part of efforts to achieve some targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
To promote the use of scientific research for sustainable development, Libya plans to set up a science and technology city to make use of the research, studies and innovative entrepreneurial ideas produced by universities and link them with developmental sectors in the country.
The World Bank-funded Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence have faced challenges to commercialise research and innovations, largely due to weak government-university-industry linkages. The three entities are not used to working together to grow innovations that impact society, a gathering of centre leaders in Entebbe, Uganda, heard.
Close to 22,000 students sought admission to study at the six colleges of the University of Rwanda, but only 8,000 were admitted. A lack of infrastructure and equipment as well as a cut in the government’s subsidy have been blamed for leaving thousands of school-leavers without places.
The University Cheikh Ahmadoul Khadim in Touba, Senegal, organised a workshop to explain the ‘LMD’ higher education system to teaching and research staff, and improve their proficiency in operating it. This will enhance the mobility of students and teachers nationally and internationally.
South Africa has not placed the same emphasis on private higher education as a driver of training and development nationally as it has done with public higher education. The sector has also not been considered a worthy stakeholder to support the national agenda and drive national development and transformation targets.
African countries have been urged to develop new universities that are entrepreneurial from the outset to counter challenges posed by unemployment, hunger and the vulnerabilities of health risks and climate change as well as competition for scarce natural resources, according to the Economic Commission for Africa.
A criminal case involving two suspects arrested in connection with the killing of Deborah Samuel, a female student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, Nigeria, has been struck from the roll for lack of diligent prosecution and the absence of the police prosecutor in court on several occasions.
A new European Union-funded project meant to enhance the training of graduate students and young researchers in Africa has the potential to help ease the shortage of academic staff and researchers at universities. Eight universities in Africa and four in Europe are part of the project.
As the fighting of the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces enters its second month, reports of rape and sexual assault of women, including members of the university community, are emerging. Dr Natalia Kanem, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, said it has received similar reports.
While students in Tunisia are calling for protests against the arrest of two students for publishing a song on social media criticising oppression and abuse, academics and public figures signed an open letter expressing solidarity with political prisoners and the opposition leader, Rached Ghannouchi, who was jailed earlier this month.
Morocco and the European Union have launched a two-year initiative to enhance tolerance in societies where terrorism and violent extremism exist. The initiative should not only focus on religious and ideologically driven extremism, but also address other root causes, including socio-economic factors, experts say.
Academic freedom in universities in Africa has dipped significantly in the recent past as a result of threats by political systems, according to researchers. According to them, violations against academic freedom have become a common phenomenon across public universities in Africa.
Research shows that African students spend too much time on social media. This does not only negatively affect their studies, but also their mental health. And addiction seems to be rising, increasing the risk of depression and anxiety.
An initiative that aims to harness the opportunities of internationalisation and digitalisation for enhanced quality of postgraduate training, seeks to address some of the key challenges that universities in Africa face today. These include a lack of capacity to use technologies effectively in learning, teaching and research.
There is a need for continued exploration and publication within academic global health to build an anti-colonial curriculum in the field, a study argues. The authors say anti-colonialism in global health is vital to address inequities, both locally and globally. It provides a synthesis of guidelines on anti-colonial education.
Despite the liberal nature of Ghana’s abortion laws, the prevalence of unsafe abortion is still high among female undergraduates, a group of researchers at the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Hohoe has said. Undergraduate students often resort to unsafe termination of pregnancy whenever they get pregnant, even more than once.
Despite calls from Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, including university staff and students, who have been urging the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces to protect civilians and allow the safe passage of humanitarian aid, violence appears to be ongoing and civilian deaths are increasing.
Togo’s Higher Education Minister, Ihou Wateba, has announced that courses and diplomas offered by private universities must conform with those of public institutions from the next academic year. This fulfils a recommendation from an international evaluation of the private higher education sector.
Little research on emergency care in Africa was conducted between 2011 and 2021, according to South African researchers. This is likely due to the nascency of the discipline in Africa and resonates with the other barriers to the success of African doctoral programmes.
The traditional forms of competition and collaboration in higher education and research have been transformed over the past few decades as the role of knowledge in innovation, economic growth and social change has become more prominent. How can universities better navigate the changed relationship between competition and collaboration?
The students’ union of the faculty of pharmacy at the University of Tripoli in Libya has called on the university presidency and the ministry of higher education and scientific research to investigate the death of a female pharmacy student, which is allegedly related to the institution’s poor handling of medical excuses.
Universities in East Africa need to recruit more than 35,500 lecturers to meet the desired student-to-teacher ratio in various subject areas, and thousands more faculty to have the ideal number of teaching staff in their lecturing halls and laboratories by 2030, a survey has found.
There is a new ray of hope for Kenyan university students following a fresh attempt by parliament to cut loan interest rates and extend the repayment period. New legislation under consideration could lower the interest rate on higher education loans by one percentage point to 3%.
Egyptian students who studied at Sudanese universities and managed to escape the war-torn country will be able to resume their studies in their homeland if they meet the entry requirements of private and national universities, Mohamed Ayman Ashour, Egypt’s minister of higher education and scientific research, has announced.
Rising costs of living are affecting the mobility of international students and many of them are having to reconsider decisions to study abroad, according to a survey of 21,000 students in 108 countries conducted by IDP Connect, an educational marketing and student recruitment firm.
At some universities in Zimbabwe, organisations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, or LGBTI, students have been formed – a small but historic step in the fight against discrimination on campuses. This comes at a time when Uganda has passed one of the world’s strictest anti-LGBTQ bills.
The African research community is looking forward to a fairer, equitable, inclusive and diverse collaborative research environment in the future – one of the major benefits that come with the publication of the Cape Town Statement on Fostering Research Integrity through Fairness and Equity.
An interdisciplinary research network of French institutes and African universities has been launched to provide a mobilisation framework for the sustainable management of land and territories in the area of the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel. It aims to reverse the degradation of vital ecosystems and address climate crises.
Higher government subsidies for vulnerable students to enable them to study free of charge, a ban on fee hikes and greater transparency about the cost of education are some of the recommendations that have been made to Kenyan President William Ruto to tackle the spiralling funding crisis in the tertiary sector.
The University of Manouba in Tunis, Tunisia, has said it will withdraw the title of emeritus professor from a historian and former dean of its faculty of letters, arts and humanities over his participation in an international academic symposium in Paris alongside Israeli academics.
Academics in 5,000 institutions in 107 low- and medium-income countries will benefit from the Cambridge Open Equity Initiative, a pilot project that will allow them to publish their research in about 400 open-access journals that are owned by the Cambridge University Press – at no cost to them.
The University of Zimbabwe has started sending its lecturers for industrial attachment as a troubleshooting measure to help address the skills gap in the country. Initially, there was resistance from lecturers, but the move, which is expected to be replicated by other state universities, is now part of the institution’s ordinances.
Despite policy changes and several transformation interventions, white academics in South African universities still dominate the upper echelons of the academic ladder. This is according to the Council on Higher Education’s recently released Review of Higher Education in South Africa 25 years into Democracy.
Sudan’s civil society, including students and staff from the university community and the academic diaspora, has launched several initiatives, ranging from fundraising and awareness campaigns to medical support, in an effort to deal with the impact of military clashes that started on 15 April.
The challenges facing the higher education sector in the West African nation of Liberia could be mitigated and properly managed by adopting educational policies and curricula that will serve the needs of the labour market, and unwavering political will to enforce relevant policies.
In the last in a series of workshops hosted by the Southern African Regional Universities Association about work on the Southern African masters degree in climate change and sustainable development, a comprehensive assessment strategy for the programme, which incorporates Work-integrated Learning modalities to foster integration of theory and practice, was discussed.
Exorbitant tuition fees are the biggest challenge facing students at higher education institutions in the country, a study focusing on the process of licensing of a private higher education institution in Zimbabwe found. Other challenges are students who cannot afford housing and food, and poor ICT penetration.
University graduates from a pan-African private higher education network have defied the odds in Africa, a continent suffering high graduate unemployment rates, by crafting partnerships involving universities as well as the private and public sectors to increase job placements, which, in some instances, are securing a 90% employment rate.
The higher education community in Sudan, including several universities, their academics and students, has taken a stand as part of a pro-democracy movement to call for an end to the war in the country and for humanitarian support for citizens affected by the military clashes between the national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
South Africa’s University of Pretoria has conferred an honorary doctorate on the first person from Africa to head the World Health Organization or WHO as director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in recognition of his work as a global health expert and scholar.
Zimbabwe’s institutions of higher learning are reeling from the effects of power cuts, a development that is raising the cost of running a university, with adverse effects on students. The power cuts are blamed on low power-generation capacity and breakdowns due to ageing equipment at power-generation plants.
Most universities in East Africa struggled to uphold the integrity of examinations that were administered online during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a regional survey conducted by Education Sub-Saharan Africa, or ESSA, in collaboration with the Inter-University Council of East Africa, or IUCEA.
Early-career researchers from African countries which have limited scientific capacity are set to benefit from a US$5 million research initiative fronted by the World Academy of Sciences, a UNESCO programme unit, with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Academics across the globe have been challenged to open up the discussion about transformational knowledge which includes a holistic focus on higher education systems as well as decolonisation. As interpreters of knowledge, academics should examine how they can shape alternative ways of knowing.
To check the mass exodus of Nigerian medical doctors abroad, lawmakers are proposing a law that will make it compulsory for medical or dental practitioners trained in Nigeria to practise for at least five years before they are granted a full licence.
Following several days of fighting between Sudan’s national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, and a failed ceasefire, dozens of deaths and a growing number of injuries have been reported in the country in a conflict which is also affecting the academic community.
Dozens of deaths and a growing number of injuries have been reported in Sudan, which is also affecting the academic community as part of the country’s civil society. The safety of international students in Sudan, including Egyptian, Nigerian and Somali students, is also at risk.
A project aimed at strengthening internet access across Africa by making e-mail mailbox names and other communication platforms of higher education institutions ready for universal acceptance and e-mail address internationalisation through the use of characters in local languages and scripts, has been launched.
A pro-democracy movement, including Sudanese universities and academics, is calling for the formation of an anti-war front in response to fighting between Sudan’s national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that have killed dozens of civilians, including students and university graduates.
The Union Générale Tunisienne des Etudiants, a student union in Tunisia, has joined an international campaign launched by the Saharawi student union La Página Oficial de Estudiantes Saharauis earlier in April in which they advocate for an end to Morocco’s arrests of Western Sahara students who support the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people.
A crisis over a threat to deport up to 200 Kenyan students in Finland has been narrowly avoided. However, it raises ethical questions over the handling of Finland’s export education scheme. Additionally, county authorities in Kenya have allegedly been dishonest partners.
Transdisciplinarity is a key component of the revised Southern African climate change and sustainable development masters degree programme, as it emphasises collaboration, teamwork and communication across different fields of study and will help to develop a deep understanding of the social, economic and cultural contexts of the region.
A study on how to boost South Africa’s ailing pipeline of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, suggests the inclusion of science communication coursework in tertiary teacher training programmes. This could improve STEM education as well as enhance the appeal of STEM careers among high school learners.
As student protests against non-payment of grants spread through universities in Madagascar, Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Elia Béatrice Assoumacou has explained reasons for the delay and announced that they will be paid on 17 April – five months late. The primary reason for the delay was linked to the increased number of students.
Students from countries that form part of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which has agreed on a harmonised qualification framework to advance regional mobility as well as the portability and comparability of qualifications, are complaining that they have to wait for months before their qualifications are approved.
A strike by professors and lecturers in South Sudan’s five public universities has been called off for now after President Salva Kiir Mayardit directed the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to release unpaid salaries according to an older scale. However, academics are still considering their options.