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