Copyright: Jason Larkin / Panos

Copyright: Jason Larkin / Panos

By Irene Friesenhahn

Irene Friesenhahn rounds up sources of online information, highlighting key initiatives on Africa’s higher education

Several organisations address higher education in Africa through their work. The Carnegie Corporation of New York and UN agencies including UNESCO and the World Bank provide great online resources.

In 1980 UNESCO set up the African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI), a regional NGO that facilitates collaboration and strengthens capacity for training and research. Since 2005, ANSTI has organised a biannual conference series — the Conference of Vice-Chancellors, Deans of Science Engineering and Technology (COVIDSET) — to discuss strategic issues in science and engineering education. The COVIDSET reports propose action plans for making science, engineering and technology training more relevant to development in Africa. UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report identifies effective policy reforms, best practice and emerging challenges and assesses progress towards achieving the ‘Dakar’ Education for All goals, which include increasing the number of students in higher education and linking education to the workplace. Another UNESCO initiative, Education Transforms Lives, promotes education as a development catalyst that increases health and raises the chances of employment. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics provides statistics and data on various aspects of higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as enrolment and mobility, and how graduates are distributed by field. UNESCO provides an up-to-date overview of educational spending in Africa in a spread sheet.

The World Bank has recently launched 19 centres of excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, located at universities in seven countries in West and Central Africa. A separate World Bank programme, Tertiary Education In Africa, focuses on six areas within the higher education sector in Sub-Saharan Africa: sustainable financing; diversification and public-private partnerships; governance and management; quality; labour market relevance and linkages; and regionalisation. The programme website offers publications analysing developments in these areas, including comparisons between different African countries. The World Bank also makes statistics and indicators on tertiary education worldwide available through EdStats. And its Open Knowledge Repository contains the Africa Development Indicators reports, one of the most elaborate series of statistical indicators on Africa’s development status. The repository also offers reports on the status of education, including tertiary education, in various African countries.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Higher Education and Libraries in Africa programme offers financial support and resource access to institutions and projects working to enhance capacity development in Sub-Saharan Africa. It also promotes networks and provides fellowships for scientists and scholars across the continent. The programme focuses on public libraries in South Africa and on excellence in postgraduate training, research and retention of scientists in their home nations (Ghana, South Africa and Uganda). In 2007, the Corporation also launched the Africa Regional Initiative in Science and Education. This aims to strengthen science and engineering research and teaching by supporting university-based networks — helping students access grants and career opportunities and training new faculty or upgrading staff qualifications.

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UoNThe University of Nairobi (UoN) will join other regional universities in bidding to host one of the centres of excellence being funded by the World Bank.

This was revealed during a consultative meeting between The University of Nairobi (UoN) and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).

The World Bank African Higher Education Centres of Excellence initiative will meet the demand for specialized skills and knowledge critical for Africa’s development.

Speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Lucy Irungu, noted that the University will develop proposals responding to the World Bank’s call for proposals. The University will concentrate on three areas of focus which are Health Sciences, Agriculture Sciences and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

On his part, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary, RUFORUM, noted that the establishment of centres of excellence in the continent is as a result of a specific recommendation made to improve higher education in Africa. He said that the process will be competitive, open and transparent and called on the University to develop proposals of quality and content.

Present during the meeting was Prof. Charles Mulei, Ag. Principal, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences and Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Prof. John Kimenju, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. William Ogara, Director, Centre for International Programmes and Links, Prof. Raphael Wahome and Ms. Rosemary Omwandho, Assistant Registrar, Research, Production and Extension.

To understand more about the World Bank Centers of Excellence, please read the press release on the World Bank to Finance 19 Centers of Excellence to Help Transform Science, Technology, and Higher Education in Africa

This article has been reposted from the university of Nairobi website. Read more.


Participants from the University of Gezira, Ministry of Agriculture, and Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC) attending the elearning training hosted at the University of Gezira.

The RUFORUM information and communication technology (ICT) program was established in 2009. One of its goals is to support the member universities to implement technology-mediated teaching and learning. The intended outcome is member universities improving the quality of learning delivery. When this happens quality students would be produced and in turn contribute towards solving Africa’s development challenges.

In 2009 the RUFORUM Secretariat carried out the ICT Readiness Analysis. One of the findings was that only 38% of the member universities provided incentives for staff to use ICT for teaching, learning and research. As a follow up to the 2009 study, a series of eLearning workshops have been held in selected RUFORUM member universities. In Sudan, Kordofan University and University of Gezira have been the beneficiaries.

In December 2011 fifty academic staff from Kordofan University were trained in eLearning concepts and the MOODLE learning management system. From 22nd – 28th March 2015 forty academic staff from the University of Gezira were also trained in eLearning concepts and the MOODLE learning management system. At both universities time was also spent engaging the senior university leaders on how they could create a supportive environment for eLearning development. The RUFORUM Secretariat believes that these capacity building initiatives will build a necessary pool of eLearning champions.

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