[Issue 86] Media Monitoring: Extract of Press News on Higher Education in Africa

  1. World Bank

Increased Investment in Zimbabwe’s Tertiary Education Essential to Economic Growth, Human Capital Development (Zimbabwe)

Extensive reforms are required to translate the government’s education vision into a concrete set of programs and projects to accelerate economic recovery and reduce socioeconomic disparities, the Zimbabwe Higher and Tertiary Education Sector Analysis Report found. Developed by the World Bank and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Department (MHTEISTD), the report acknowledges the ongoing reform efforts that the department has embarked on under its Education 5.0 strategy to revitalize higher and tertiary education through the five pillars of Teaching, Research, Community Service, Innovation, and Industrialization. The report also finds that throughout the past decade, Zimbabwe has sustained a high level of public education spending, including spending on tertiary education, relative to the size of its economy. The macro-economic challenges in that last two years have however seen significant decline in education spending both as a percentage of total government expenditure and as a percentage of gross domestic product. “The government’s longstanding commitment to education spending reflects the importance of human-capital development as a national cultural value. As we are fully cognizant of the ever-changing world in which we operate we now seek to transform our Tertiary Education to meaningfully impact economic productivity and workforce skills development,” said Professor Fanuel Tagwira, Permanent Secretary, MHTIESTD. The education analysis underscores the recent World Bank Digital Economy Diagnostic for Zimbabwe launched in May, which revealed that Zimbabwe is facing a significant skills deficit in science and technology-linked job roles, including digital skills. Studies on the digital transformation of the African economy stress the importance for Zimbabwe of further developing its science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. “Digital economies are energized when there is a sizeable population with basic digital skills and a critical mass of tech-savvy skilled personnel and advanced specialists that help to adapt and diffuse digital technologies across different sectors. Therefore, Zimbabwe requires focused effort on developing a digitally competent workforce and digitally literate citizens who could reap the benefits that the digital transformation can bring,” said Mukami Kariuki, World Bank Country Manager, Zimbabwe.
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2. Morocco World News

Scientists discover rare plant fossil from late Devonian Era in Morocco (Morocco)

An international team of scientists, led by Mostafa Oukassou and Serge V. Naugolnykh, have discovered the first record of a plant from the Late Devonian era in the Moroccan Meseta. The study was published in the Journal of African Earth Sciences, and it is based on six “practically complete specimens including holotype” that were preserved “as compression and impression in quartzitic sandstone of the top of Dalaa Formation.” According to the authors, the study breaks new grounds and allows for a more thorough understanding of the diversity of the Devonian era land plants, which would have grown anywhere between 419.2 million years ago and 358.9 million years ago. The Devonian was a significant period in the history of the evolution of land vegetation. “It corresponds to the final stage of the terrestrialization process when plants gradually came to occupy all the lowlands of the continents and formed the first highly sophisticated ecosystems,” the study notes. The discovery is significant as, compared to North and South America, Eurasia, and Australia, the era’s plant record from Africa is particularly sparse. The study was done on behalf of the Laboratory of Applied Geology, Geomatic and Environment, Department of Geology, of Hassan II University of Casablanca, Morocco, the Geological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Kazan (Privolzhsky) Federal University. With growing interest from both local and foreign scientists, Morocco has seen a wave of discoveries in recent years. Earlier this year a team of researchers discovered a 2.5 million year old macaque fossil in Guefait, Morocco, which dates back more than 2.5 million years. At around the same time, another team of scientists announced the discovery of a crushed ossified lung from a 66-million years old coelacanth in Oued Zem, in Morocco’s Beni Mellal-Khenifra region.
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