Strengthening U.S.-Africa Partnerships on Education
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The conference between the Centre for Strategic & International Security (CSIS) African Program and Howard university hosted panelists who shared recommendations on the ways in which partnerships in education between the US and Africa could be strengthened.

The key points which the conference hoped to address include how the US could reopen not only its doors to African students but also encourage American universities to open campuses in Africa with the goal to attract American students to Africa.

The conference explored the prospects for expanding eLearning and online courses for African students to benefit from US education, and how opportunities can be created to connect African diasporas in the US to universities in the African region.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Pretoria (UP), Dr Tawana Kupe currently has partnerships established between some American universities including Cornell, Michigan State, Fordham, Massachusetts Institute Technology and Harvard Business school and selected universities in Africa.

File: Loretta Feris, Professor of law at University of Cape Town, left, and Dr.Tawana Kupe, Vice Chancellor, University of Pretoria during a visit to the 8 gallery Javett- UP Art Centre and 4IR Mecca Future of Africa (Photo credit: Facebook)

For example, Cornell and Michigan state university have partnerships with 10 African universities which have led to not only research projects that focus on agriculture models, food and sustainable systems but online programs have been created to train students in innovative approaches methods.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has partnership with University of Pretoria that allows students from UP to join MIT engineering program for a year and then return to UP to finish their degree when the year is done. In the case of Harvard Business school, joint degrees/component of an MBA are taught to broaden the understanding of how businesses work in Africa.

Dr. Kupe underscored the scaling up of these programs for a period of 10 years by the Biden administration to create an even greater partnership in education. He further suggested that the implementation of programs which range from a semester abroad, joint degrees taught in hybrid modes and the movement of staff and students between US universities.

The Vice Chancellor said creating avenues for American and African universities to collaborate will dispel stereotypes and be replaced with the notion that knowledge knows no boundaries and scholarship is global.

Dr Paul Zeleza Vice Chancellor of the United States International University Africa was commissioned in 2011-12 by the Carnegie corporation of New York to undertake a project on engagement between African born academics in Canada and the US with African high academic institutions.

The outcome of the study led to the setting up of the Carnegie African diaspora fellowship program which currently operates in 9 countries in Africa.

The program focuses on curriculum development, collaborative research, graduate student training and mentoring. Dr. Zeleza observed that data that was collected from this program showed that it has been an enormous success as it has helped to strengthen higher educational models including increased curriculum offerings, graduate programs, and research production in some Africa countries.

Dr. Zeleza noted that the success of this program led to the establishment of the 10:10 program which aims to sponsor 1000 academics in the diaspora for 10 years. Dr. Zeleza maintains that for this program to be successful, the African government must commit to a participatory approach to planning and development with university leaders, scholars in Africa and the diaspora as well as seek out expertise from institutions that have successfully navigated diaspora engagements.   

(Photo credit: picture taken from Dr Janette Yarwood’s twitter account)

Dr Janette Yarwood, Senior Advisor of the Bureau of African Affairs says creating opportunities for partnership can be beneficial to the youth whom she strongly believes are the key to a good democratic practice.

She listed programs which have been established by the US government including the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Through YALI, the US works with public, private and civil society partners located across the continent to develop initiatives and economic opportunities to harness the

Innovation drive and energy of the African youth.

Other programs include the English Access Micro Scholarship Program which provides English language skills to both 14-18 year, the Pan-African Youth Leadership Program gives both students between the age of 15-18 and educators the opportunity to travel to the US for a 3-week program to explore themes of youth leadership development and community engagement, and the University Partnership Initiative focuses on increasing student and staff mobility using exchange programs and joint research projects in areas of STEM and agriculture.

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