Partnerships give chances to more students
The rapid expansion of specialised colleges, with their capacity both to train teachers and to equip students for work in the IT sector and professions, has vastly improved the educational landscape in Africa. After massive funding cuts to state universities and colleges in the 1980s and 1990s, a new generation of schools have been established as public-private partnerships.
A great example of one of these institutions is Ashesi University College in Ghana, founded in 1999 by Patrick Awuah. Ashesi was born out of two core ideas: to develop a liberal arts college with courses in science and the humanities for all students; and secondly, to teach science and engineering of direct relevance for companies in Africa.
FRONTLINE – INNOVATIVE AFRICA
FRONTLINE – INNOVATIVE AFRICA
•Green revolution: Harnessing earth, wind and fire
•Big leaps from the platform: mobile money and Ushahidi
•The fightback against HIV/AIDS
•Partnerships give chances to more students
•Culture: Soaraway success on a shoestring
•Employment: Take these broken wings and learn to fly
Having worked as a top engineer at Microsoft, Awuah wanted Ashesi to be grounded in African culture and tradition but for its students to compete in global markets. Ashesi means ‘beginning’ in Twi. Awuah sees it as such, both for the students and for a new wave of top-class tertiary institutions in Africa. His fundraisers have established scholarships from some of the biggest companies in the world, including the MasterCard Foundation. Offering scholarships to students from some of the country’s poorest families was a priority at Ashesi from the start.
That same imperative drove Mamokgethi Setati, vice principal for research and innovation at the University of South Africa and the country’s first black female to obtain a doctorate in mathematics education. Setati went to secondary school in Hebron village, and then went to university at the same time as her mother – a former domestic worker – began college education.
In 2004, Setati launched the ‘Adopt a learner’ programme to promote mathematics and science. With strong support from new graduate students and local businesses, ‘Adopt a learner’ provides finance and mentoring to underprivileged students.
In Nairobi, the African Leadership Centre, with its postgraduate courses on peace, security and development, is a strong example of pan-African and international intellectual cooperation. Its leading light is Funmi Olonisakin, a Nigerian specialist on conflict resolution, who brought in King’s College London and the University of Nairobi as partners for the centre. Its student intake spans Africa, reinforcing its aim to build a corpus of knowledge, networks and practical experience that can be used more effectively to address conflicts. ●
Teaching – Proof is in the learning
It was the 100% pass rates for all final-year students at Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School, which has students from some of the toughest backgrounds, that won South African teacher Shape Msiza international celebrity. Determination, discipline and relentless attention to the students will always produce the best results, Msiza insists.
Students – Opening doors
Getting into one of the eight Ivy League universities in the US is a substantial achievement; getting into all eight is extremely rare. This year Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, the daughter of a Nigerian couple, joined the illustrious ranks of Kwasi Enin (Ghana, 2014); Munira Khalif (Somalia, 2015); and Victor Agbafe (Nigeria, 2015), as diaspora Africans with very proud parents!