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UNU’s Activities in and on Africa


Senegal, Dakar — A lecturer delivers an economics lecture in English at Suffolk University’s satellite campus in Dakar. Photographer © Jacob Silberberg

Completed projects appear below those ongoing.

Education for Sustainable Development in Africa

UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP and UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA)

Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA) is a 3-year UNU project which develops and implements a graduate-level training program for teachers and professionals to be engaged in education for sustainable development in Africa. UNU-ISP is working in collaboration with Japanese universities working in this area and using its network of universities and higher education institutions in African countries, as well as its twin institute, UNU-INRA.

The principal aim of this project is to promote education for sustainable development in African countries through training of teachers and professionals who may serve as planners, organizers and instructors for ESD programs in these countries. An open symposium on “The Role of Universities in the Promotion of Higher Education for Sustainable Development in Africa” was held at the UNU Centre in Tokyo on 27 February, 2009. The symposium addressed sustainability challenges in Africa, including issues relating to natural resources, and degradation, and urbanization. It also featured presentations on “Core Competencies for Sustainable Development in Africa”, “Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability into Africa Universities”, and others.

A consultative conference was held from 16-18 October, 2009 on the role of African higher education in adapting to climate change. Organized by the UNU-ISP and UNU-INRA in partnership with the University of Ghana, the conference discussed the challenges to climate and ecosystem change, shared information on ongoing research, explored dissemination of tools and methods to assess the impacts of climate change, and identified priority areas offering joint research opportunities and trans-disciplinary programmes.

In February 2010, an ESDA workshop was held in Nairobi, Kenya to elaborate concrete curriculums for the proposed three master's courses. In August 2010, a follow-up strategic workshop was held in Cape Town, South Africa. Several participating universities will implement pilot courses by March 2011, and within the ESDA framework new research projects are planned between participating African and Japanese universities.

E-learning laboratory at the University of Yaoundé I (Cameroon)

UNU Vice Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

An institutional collaboration has started between University of Yaoundé I (UY1) in Cameroon and the United Nations University. The university management, faced by structural challenges due to rapid increase in student number and aware of the potentials of e-learning, decided to elaborate a plan of action to improve the access and quality of its academic programmes. The project leader, Professor Mama Foupouagnigni together with a multi-disciplinary team of dedicated professors and support staff is elaborating a strategic plan to deploy e-learning at the University.

A first pilot phase is planned to create the e-learning centre and produce five e-learning course modules. UNU-ViE supports this project and with financial support of the Humboldt Foundation invited Prof. Foupouagnigni in 2008 to stay as a visiting professor for two months to gain expertise by working with UNU-ViE e-learning expert, elaborate the plan and meet with different German university experts and donors (DAAD, private companies).

The current and future phase includes capacity building of the e-learning team, to host the e-learning centre and produce the first series of e-learning course content, leverage of additional resources, and mainstreaming of e-learning practices at a larger scope at the university.

From 19–23 October 2009, UNU-ViE and the University Duisburg visited the University of Yaounde I, Cameroon’s oldest university, to explore possibilities for advancing the institutional collaboration and conduct training on the production and diffusion of e-learning content at UY1. The training was a first step in building the capacity of professors from various disciplines as well as their students to produce course content in the Learning Management System Moodle.

Through the Fact Finding Mission the participating researchers and both institutions had the opportunity to elaborate strategies and assess the local situation and stakeholders needs. An e-learning seminar helped to raise awareness and mobilize local stakeholders in a process of e-learning development within the University of Yaounde I.

The next step in this long-term project of cooperation will be to allow the mainstreaming of e-learning activities at UY1.

Location: Yaoundé (Cameroon)

Tags: e-learning

E-learning for Integrated Watershed Management

UNU Vice Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

The project E-Learning for Integrated Watershed Management aims at introducing e-learning into the teaching and learning practices in East African universities in the area of Watershed Management Education. The project is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and will run from 2008 to 2010. It will contribute to the EU-Project “Capacity Building for Integrated Watershed Management in Eastern Africa – (IWMNET)” managed by Universität Siegen.

A participative approach is at the heart of this project. African and international experts will take part in six workshops in the course of the project to build a common knowledge base, set up regional networks, and develop their own tailor made e-learning solutions in their respective universities.

The roadmap for the next three years is being developed in close collaboration with the participants. Ensuring the participants’ full engagement at each stage of the project, the organizers hope to be able to build a community of East African experts in the field of Integrated Watershed Management and to foster innovative transboundary cooperation.

The first workshop took place on 12-17 July 2008 in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and a first collaborative e-learning platform was created using a wiki. The second workshop “Production of eContent for courses on Integrated Watershed Management” took place from January 22 to February 02 2009 in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The aim was to develop a series of eContent elements, like podcasts, WebQuests and alike which can then be used for teaching the modules as eLearning modules within the frame of the Master Programme for IWM.

Location: Tanzania

Tags: e-learning

Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE)

UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)

An RCE is a network of existing formal, non-formal and informal education and learning-related organizations, mobilized to deliver ESD at local and regional (sub-national) levels. RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005–2014), by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate.

The core elements of an RCE are governance, collaboration with actors from all levels of formal, non-formal and informal education, research and development, and contributing to the transformation of education to reflect the principles of sustainable development. As of August 2010, UNU officially acknowledged seventy-seven RCEs globally, of which thirteen are in Africa.

On the occasion of the First MESA (Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability into African Universities) International Conference in November 2008 in Nairobi, UNU-IAS and representatives of African RCEs organized a workshop to bring forward discussions on the RCE concept, examples of practices and challenges that RCEs face. MESA is a flagship project on ESD set up by UNEP.

During the [Association of African Universities] (Education for Susta) (AAU) 12th General Conference “Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Higher Education” in May 2009 in Abuja, Nigeria, UNU-IAS organized a parallel event on RCEs in collaboration with representatives of African RCEs. In this parallel event, UNU-IAS familiarized event participants who were representatives of African universities with the concept of RCE and procedures of how to apply to become an RCE. Each RCE must have at least one local higher education institution as a partner, and all RCEs in Africa are linked to UNEP’s MESA.

Also in May 2009, during the 17th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-17) in New York, UNU-IAS organized a side event on RCEs titles “Regional Centres of Expertise for Sustainable Development in Africa” on 8 May 2009. The event was co-sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, UNESCO, UNEP, WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), and the UN CSD Education Caucus.

Location: Egypt (Cairo), Ghana, Kenya (Greater Nairobi, Kakamega-Western Kenya), Malawi (Zomba), Mozambique (Maputo), Nigeria (Kano, Lagos), Senegal, South Africa (Kwa-Zulu Natal, Makana & Rural Eastern Cape), Swaziland, and Uganda (Greater Mbarara)

Tags: sustainability, sustainable development, MDGs, poverty, social responsibility

UNU-IAS Internship Programme

UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)

Contact: Atsuko Kawamori

Timeframe: 2006 to present


UNU-IAS provides a framework for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds to enhance their experience through practical assignments, to provide students with hands-on experience and a better understanding of UN organization and activities, and to provide UNU-IAS with the assistance of qualified students specialized in various professional fields.

UNU-IAS had four interns from African countries including Ghana, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Nigeria respectively from 2006 to 2010.

Tags: internship, food security, MDGs, adaptation, policy

Workshop series on challenges and perspectives in African higher education

UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

UNU-ViE organized a pre-conference workshop at eLearning Africa (27 May, 2009) the continent’s largest annual assembly of e-learning and education professionals from Africa and beyond. UNU-ViE invited 4 African e-learning experts from the University of Cape Town, South Africa University of Yaoundé, Cameroon, University of Makarere, Uganda and the Southern African Institute for Distance Education, South Africa for the panel discussion. Together with them, workshop participants explored the concept of "Universities 2.0," to start thinking about how universities need to change in order to address the challenges of the 21st century. The concept of this future “University 2.0” helped to develop a vision of universities which innovate their own structures in order to provide opportunities for learning across disciplines, across borders, and become nests of innovation to find global solutions to local problems.

Further workshops were organized at the 4th ICDE Conference (27-29 May, 2009) in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and at the EFQUEL Innovation Forum (24-26 September, 2009) in Helsinki, Finland.

The discussion about future concepts in African higher education and exploring ways to empower African higher education continued online (6-24 July, 2009) on the Wiki Science Connect.

Locations: Sub-Sahara Africa

Tags: E-learning

Completed Projects

Innovative centre on education support for Africa

UNU Office of the Rector (UNU)

This project, lead by Professor Francisco Komlavi Seddoh, former adviser to the Rector on African issues and current UNU council member, presents a joint initiative by UNU and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) known as the Innovative Centre on Education Support in Africa. The aim of this initiative is to help sub-Saharan countries meet the challenges facing their educational systems. Within the framework of this initiative, four African universities have conducted research focusing on (1) policies and reforms of educational systems in Africa, (2) programmes, pedagogy and teaching tools, (3) training of teachers in Africa, and (4) research on education in Africa. The main findings of these research projects were first presented on the occasion of the fourth TICAD which was held in May 2008, in Yokohama, Japan. These research findings are now available in the publication entitled Revitalizing Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa which was widely distributed upon publication in April 2009.

Seminar on E-learning in Higher Education

UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

Contact: Virginie Aimard

Time frame: 2008

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) has invited one capacity building and e-learning expert of UNU-ViE as a keynote speaker for an Humboldt Kolleg (three-day seminar) in the University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon. The seminar “Development and applications of e-learning in Higher Education in Cameroon” planned to take place in July 2008 aims at presenting the specificities of this methodology to the teachers and graduate students and give guidance on the concrete steps necessary for the take up of e-learning and its integration in the curriculum. The expert will also provide input and support the setting up of a working group at the University of Yaoundé in charge of the development and implementation of an e-learning strategy for the University.

Tags: Africa, education, capacity development, e-learning, higher education, Cameroon

E-Learning in African higher education – implications and consequences

UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

Contact: Virginie Aimard

Time frame: 2009.09.30–2009.10.02

From 30 September until 2 October 2009, UNU and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) jointly organized a workshop entitled "Integrating eLearning: Key Challenges for Higher Education Governance" at the UN Campus in Bonn. The expert meeting brought together 30 participants from about a dozen sub-Saharan African countries to discuss a topic that affects professionals from different fields – e-learning experts, lecturers and Vice-chancellors of African universities, representatives of African national higher education commissions from East and West Africa and the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA): What does the introduction of e-learning mean for a university?

The 3-day interactive workshop comprised a stocktaking exercise of the current state of e-learning in African universities as well as panel discussions and working groups on the topics of management and governance as well as quality assurance and e-learning.

Tags: E-learning

Open symposium - The Role of Universities in the Promotion of Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA)

UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)

Contact: Yoshie Oya

Time frame: 2009.02.27

The Open Symposium The Role of Universities in the Promotion of Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA) was held, which was a collaborative event with UNU-ISP with SDG and EfSD on 27 February, 2009.

The symposium consisted of presentations by experts in the area of sustainable development and education in Africa to discuss the challenges the continent faces in higher education. This symposium further developed the new UNU programme, Education for Sustainable Development in Africa, and it followed the three days of consultation with African and Japanese university experts on Education for Sustainable Development.

Tags: MDGs, policy, sustainability/sustainable development

Open educational resources for agricultural higher education in Eastern and Southern Africa

UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)

Contact: Thomas Zschocke

Timeframe: 2010.06.30

Under the leadership of the World Agroforestry Centre, UNU-EHS is actively involved in the project Agrolor on improving access to and availability of quality agricultural learning resources, which is funded by the Flemish Government. It involves university partners from several countries in Eastern and Southern Africa to develop open educational resources for eLearning in higher agricultural education.

Location: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia

Tags:E-learning, open courseware portal, poverty, rural, vulnerability/risk

E-Learning readiness survey of agricultural faculty members in Africa

UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)

Contact: Thomas Zschocke

Timeframe: 2010.06.30

UNU-EHS together with World Agroforestry Centre and the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE) conducts a survey about the readiness and willingness of agricultural faculty members from universities in Anglophone and Francophone Africa to use eLearning in their teaching.The survey is based on the decomposed theory of planned behavior as a model to explain the use of eLearning by faculty members. The initial results of the study will be presented at the eLearning Africa 2010 conference, and submitted as a joint research paper to a peer-reviewed journal.

Location: Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Western Africa

Tags:E-learning, open courseware portal


Page last modified 2019.04.16.

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