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Pan-Africa University to be Launched by September 2011

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The three Pan Africa University (PAU) Institutes will be launched in September 2011. During this financial budget 2011/12 Kenya has allocated $595,238 for Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) PAU Institute for it to start operating according to the set time frame.

JKUAT has overcome a financial hurdle that was expected to hold back its launch. During the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union (COMEDAF IV) that was held at Nairobi, a cross section of higher education experts expressed fear that if the Africa Union (AU) would not reveal its funding allocation to the project soon, important momentum could be lost.

AU Director of Human Resources, Science and Technology, Mrs Vera Ngosi said during COMEDAF IV that the financial estimates are yet to be concluded by the union.

“We still don’t have final estimates but the project is worth millions of dollars. Host countries are also expected to contribute to the project depending on their gross domestic product. It is not easy to quantify the cost,” Mrs Ngosi said.

The costs to each PAU Institute will vary according to the host institutions’ facilities. Thus, Kenya’s Minister of education, Professor Sam Ongeri who is the chair of COMEDAF IV challenged African countries to increase levels of domestic spending on education to six per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), or 20 percent of public expenditure.

JKUAT was selected to host the East Africa, Pan Africa University Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation. PAU Institute of Life and Earth Sciences will based at University of Ibadan, Nigeria to serve West Africa. PAU Institute of Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences, will be hosted by the University of Yaounde, Cameroon to take care of the Central Africa region.

Southern Africa will concentrate on space sciences and North Africa was allocated water, energy sciences and climate change, though they are yet to agree on their institution selections.

Professor Ongeri said the universities were selected after a thorough evaluation by the respective experts in consideration of their facilities and contextual region in Africa from among more than 600 universities in the continent.

“Pan Africa university provides an opportunity for our continent to claim its rightful place in the global productive economy. PAU seeks to promote science and technology in the continent and to link scientific research to economic development. This will enhance universities triple mission of; education and training, research, and public service to African community,” he said.

It is envisioned that PAU will facilitate the production of graduates of the highest level and quality who are skilled and knowledgeable – not just in technical know-how, but also with appropriate attitudes that can compel them to contribute to Africa’s human resource base rather than join Africa’s brain drain. It’s estimated that 20,000 dons leave the continent annually.

The PAU was mooted to allow greater collaboration and mobility of scientists, students and staff amongst African Universities thus creating a platform for collective formulation of policy inputs at national, regional, and continental levels.

It will also enhance collaboration amongst institutions of higher learning and research, enhancing links with industry as well as identification and strengthening of networks of centre of excellence to enhance the capacity of Africa to contribute to the global path of knowledge and innovation.

The PAU which is the culmination of continental initiatives of the Commission of the Africa Union to revitalize higher education and research in Africa has a clear cut mission of developing Africa’s human resources.

Thus, Ongeri the former medical professor at the University of Nairobi said PAU “is a project that will exemplify excellence; enhance the attractiveness and global competitiveness of Africa higher education and research, and establish the African University at the core of Africa’s development.”

The PAU will greatly boost the production and retention of high level human resources and quality knowledge outputs, and be able to attract the best human resources from all over the world.

PAU is part of the ambitious strategy for Africa to realize its educational goals: “At the end of the Second Decade of Education in 2015, Africa is expected to have addressed key issues hindering its educational development,” the minister said.

It’s envisioned that Africa countries should have developed by the end of the Second Decade a functional National Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), inter-connected to regional and continental EMIS networks.

“We need to significantly raise educational achievement, while addressing teacher education and higher education for development concerns.”

Additionally, Ongeri who is a paediatric medical expert, said that it is important to attain gender equality in primary and secondary education and fully institutionalize systematic exchange of experiences and mutual assistance for educational development; and also develop a functioning mechanism for ensuring that education contributes to regional integration.

About Robert Okemwa Onsare

Robert Okemwa Onsare
Robert Onsare is pursuing Electronics Technology at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. He is a Cluster Strategy trained facilitator by Kenya's National Economic and Social Council (NESC). Mr Onsare has been an incubation student at the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering, FabLab, a venture project of the university and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is a member of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and a published poet. Mr Onsare is based in Kenya.

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