1. Morocco World News

Morocco Working Towards University Scholarships for All Students (Morocco)

The Government is working towards ensuring 100% of Moroccan students receive a university scholarship, the Moroccan Minister of Education Said Amzazi told Parliament on Monday. In response to a question about broadening scholarship eligibility in Morocco, Amzazi noted that 95% of students attending university currently receive a scholarship. Maghreb Press Agency (MAP) reported that, according to Amzazi, 382 000 students received a university scholarship during the 2018-2019 academic year. The number of scholarship recipients increased by 4% from 2017-2018; an extra 27 000 scholarships per year, he added. The Ministry’s scholarship budget has increased from MAD 540 000 in 2012 to over MAD 1.8 million in 2019 Each province of Morocco has a quota of scholarships to allocate to students who have completed their high school baccalaureate certificate. They can award scholarships to 80% of applicants, which means 20% of applicants currently miss out. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, Amzazi clarified. University education is seen by many as a ticket to a better life, in Morocco, or overseas. However, figures released by the Moroccan statistics agency (HCP) in April show the difficulties that Moroccan university graduates then face when finding employment. On average 17.2% of Moroccan university graduates were unemployed last year, with figures rising to 25.9% for students with postgraduate qualifications.

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  1. Daily Nation

Universities must brace themselves for major reforms (Kenya)

Kenya’s universities face a serious crisis and require painful reforms to survive. Issues of funding, quality, management and manpower deficit are threatening to cripple these institutions. It is momentous that the Commission for University Education (CUE) has been given up to the end of July to conduct an audit and turn in a report to guide reforms in the sector.  If the tough-talking Cabinet secretary for Education George Magoha pursues this line, then we should prepare for painful tectonic transformations that will redefine the higher education landscape for the better. Cosmetic and platonic changes will not help. The changes should be far-reaching and define the sector for the 21st Century while aligning it to the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) that has been rolled out in lower primary school. Arguably, the university education sector has gone through enormous vicissitudes over the years. The past three decades have seen a major expansion of university education, growing from one public university in 1984 to 31 public universities and six constituent colleges in 2019. An additional 36 private universities have been licensed. It is the era of uncontrolled expansion between 2009 to 2016,that created the most serious challenges. With massive expansion, individual universities went ballistic in admitting privately sponsored students. To enhance their competitiveness, they also opened outposts all over the country, some across the borders. This market-competitive model stimulated useless competition across universities. What mattered most in this rat-race was the numbers of students admitted. There are indications that we drastically compromised quality. There is also evidence that not much of the money generated was ploughed back into the development of infrastructure to support learning. But universities are not to blame entirely for everything that went wrong. The thinking within government was that in the era of decreased State funding for universities, the policy would help generate revenue for public universities through privately sponsored students. This model introduced what I want to call academic capitalism. Universities moved to prioritise marketisation of their programmes and services. The results were disastrous. Public universities found themselves, unfortunately, adopting private values that are not in line with the age-old principles that govern knowledge generation, dissemination and social responsibility. Repercussions of commercialisation of education include the obvious quality problems. This has made it possible for issuance of fake degrees. The opening of substandard outposts and unethical practices has cheapened university education. If the CS is serious then, these are some of the issues to address. Universities did not anticipate and mitigate against possible risks.

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  1. The Mast

Towards a proposal to fund public universities in Zambia (Zambia)

Zambians should understand that the University of Zambia (UNZA) is an important institutional physician to help heal Zambia’s current economic infirmity. This is the main reason that UNZA must be at the centre of economic life in Zambia. Sadly, UNZA is a widow. UNZA itself is seriously sick. UNZA is in intensive care, in a coma. True to its new title of a widow (twenze bantu) UNZA is but the short last line of a paragraph hanging at the top of a page in our nation’s undesirable history. Therefore, we should begin at the beginning, which in this case is, physician heal yourself. I am saying this because despite assurances from government that salaries will now be paid on time, I am disgusted and flabbergasted thatsalaries to academic and support staff at UNZA are constantly delayed. Not long ago, I had sounded warning bells that professors will soon be reduced to council workers. That being said, without timely payment of salaries, professors are now academically castrated to the extent that they can no longer muster the missionary zeal to speak about the ailing economy. So, I am not surprised that UNZA is not at the epicentre of public economic policy discourse in Zambia. If there are any secret illuminati advising government on economic policy, they are probably thinking from their bellies, not their heads; hence the weird economic policies we see. A public university is a sine qua non for national development. UNZA is a public good. Its importance is even more compelling now as the world enters the 4IR, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Countries that value economic development should also value public university education. Such countries accord their highest national accolades and honours to highly skilled individuals who constitute the professoriate. There are countries where professors are senior to cabinet ministers and are even issued with diplomatic passports. In such countries, universities are now hiring rarely skilled, multi-talented, multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and trans-disciplinary professors to prepare and lead national 4IR programmes. In Africa, these efforts are in line with the African Union’s new scientific dream that seeks to use our public universities as catalysts to re-establish a new Wakanda in our lifetime. Governments are creating pools of their most talented and rarely skilled individuals to lead national economic reconstruction efforts. Alas, due to ill-funding from government, what is happening in the public university sector in Zambia is against the grain. Our public universities can seriously interrogate our ailing economy. Instead of speaking truth to power so that we adequately fund our public universities, the country is superfluously fixated on hare-brained political teletubbies quick to leap to ad hominem attacks about their political opponents. If you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance. But, let me warn you, panga-wielding political nincompoops have never developed any nation.

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Read more Issue 45 Media Monitoring.Extract for Higher Education news in Africa 45

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