- Daily Monitor
Why academic mobility within Africa is vital (Uganda)
The African Union Agenda 2063 aspires for Africa to become a major knowledge and innovation force in the global economy. The Agenda’s action plan provides a more integrated and inclusive Africa that uses its natural resources, human capital and institutions to drive technological, social and business innovation for development. It proposes to leapfrog the conventional approaches in ways that ensure rapid, sustainable growth, reduce out-migration and improve quality of life. Highly-skilled human resources are essential to develop and deploy new technologies to meet the Agenda’s goals and aspirations. This is also envisioned in the United Nations 2030 Agenda on sustainable development, notably Goal 4 on “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” and Goal 10 on “Reduce inequality within and among countries”. Africa is lagging in high-level skills, technologies and innovations, and more needs to be done, in a different way, to ensure that its young population and institutions are empowered to develop new knowledge and innovations for societal and economic transformation. This is most important in agriculture and other primary sectors, which are providing food, employing larger proportion of the population. Africa is confronted with a number of development challenges, but a critical gap is the limited human capital to respond to those challenges and to support the development agenda. As a continent, our future is dependent on our youth, the new generation of academic leaders and researchers, and we therefore need to develop a new generation of African scholars that are able to work across the continent. As such, we must not only invest in science and institutional capacity, but also in building the human base. It is true that many universities in Africa have so long been seen as de-linked from communities and this has called for redirecting the way universities do their research to closely link with the communities. One of the best ways this was done was by harnessing the resident capacity that exist in universities to foster collaboration rather than competition, because no university world over, can have expertise in everything; there are areas where some universities are stronger and those where they are weak. African governments can help provide a mechanism for African universities to support their human capital development through innovative academic mobility programmes, which are critical for generating new technologies and discoveries that transform delivery of services and improving livelihoods. They must also work towards removing the barriers such as high intra-Africa visa costs, which affect mobility, high costs of resident and work permits for initiatives which go a long way in helping Africans achieve the Africa we want. Under the auspice of an initiative “Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA),” which in design is owned by 114 universities in 38 counties in Africa, but managed and coordinated by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), Graduate students and staff seeking to study PhD are trained. The arrangement involves a host University waivering tuition for a student, who in turn teaches while he/she studies.
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- University World News
Free trade agreement offers a wealth of Higher Education benefits – Report (Africa)
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is likely to yield significant benefits for higher education and professional labour mobility on the continent once it takes effect, according to a new Assessing Regional Integration in Africa (ARIA IX) report. A mismatch between available skills and the needs of Africa’s labour markets has slowed the continent’s economic integration and overall development, according to the report. But a deepening of regional cooperation in education, including the implementation of Africa’s higher education harmonisation strategy – a recommendation under AfCFTA – can help. The report, titled Next Steps for the African Continental Free Trade Area, was released in Niamey, Niger on 7 July during the launch of the “operational phase” of AfCFTA at an African Union summit attended by heads of state and representatives of the African Union (AU). The ARIA IX report was jointly published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the African Union and the African Development Bank. It indicates that non-recognition, non-compatibility and non-comparability of skills, educational qualifications and experiences in Africa have impeded labour mobility. The AfCFTA is a trade agreement between the AU member states, aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services as well as a customs union with free movement of capital and persons. The agreement was signed in Kigali, Rwanda in March and entered into force on 30 May 2019. It became operational this month (July). Only Benin and Eritrea are yet to sign. Samuel Nyandemo, economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, told University World News that AfCFTA will lead to greater professional and educational mobility, and upskilling of Africa’s workforce. “If AfCFTA is well implemented, it will be easy to transfer credits of students from one university to another,” said Nyandemo. “Once African countries open up their borders, it will help to ensure Africa’s youth with professional qualifications are given the opportunities they deserve to work anywhere on the continent.” However, Nyandemo said that this might take time and might also not be possible if governments fail to implement the agreement, as in the case of other economic bloc agreements. “It will require governments to harmonise training programmes, exercise political will, and improve the physical infrastructure in universities and interlinkages between programmes,” he said.
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- University World News
New approach needed to tackle employability problem (Egypt)
Career counselling in higher education aims to provide students with experiential learning opportunities during and after their coursework. This includes internships, seminars, workshops, professional development programmes and fellowships. Today, more than ever, universities view career counselling as a valuable service that promotes lifelong learning and provides career and employment guidance for their students, helping them to stay current with emerging occupational patterns and enhancing their future career prospects. In the higher education arena, the relationship between career counselling and employment is an inseparable one in that it provides students with practical learning opportunities and connects them with potential employers who could significantly impact their career trajectories after graduation. Providing students with hands-on experiences and experiential learning opportunities not only enhances their understanding of what they are studying, but also develops their skills and prepares them to be successful employees in various work environments. Employment, income and status have traditionally been viewed as the product of higher education. Unfortunately, in Egypt, the reality is that this has not always been the case because higher education is not geared towards equipping students with 21st century employability skills. Although higher education is considered a means for social mobility, students in Egypt face major difficulties that prevent them from attaining its benefits, such as low employment opportunities, highly competitive job markets and workplace skill gaps. This is due in part to the fact that public universities in Egypt do not offer students the skills they need to be successful workers in the global 21st century marketplace. Today, the importance of English literacy and information and communications technology (ICT) skills remain underestimated in Egypt’s higher education institutions, with curricula emphasising rote memorisation instead of the practical application of knowledge.This is problematic in the sense that it creates a large workforce that lacks the knowledge and technical expertise that the market demands.
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