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See also: BWC; eLearning; NextGen; Regional Networks; Statement of Principles

Focal Areas and Grantmaking through 2008


Nigerian case study launch

The 2007 launch of Gender in the Making of the Nigerian University System

Through 2008 the Partnership foundations contributed an aggregate of a little more than $350 million toward higher education development in nine countries -- Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda -- and on a regional or Africa-wide basis.

The Partnership makes its grants through two funding vehicles: Joint Partnership Initiatives, and Individual Foundation Grantmaking. Each Partnership member works directly with individual grantees in the seven focus countries according to the foundation's mission, priorities, and geographic mandate. Funding decisions are made independently by each foundation using its normal mechanisms for review and decisionmaking.

Partnership Focal Areas

Much of the Partnership's work -- both joint and individual -- has concentrated on priority areas identified in our Strategic Plan:

Developing & Retaining the Next Generation of Academics

The Next Generation of Academics focus reflects the concern voiced by many African scholars about brain drain, gender representation, and the retention of high quality faculty and researchers at African universities. In addition to lacking environments conducive to attracting and retaining new academics, many universities have limited capacity to provide postgraduate training. In some settings, universities lack the specialized libraries, laboratories, and comprehensive coverage of the field needed for doctoral training. In still more settings, too few faculty are qualified to supervise doctoral training. Certain fields lack a critical mass of faculty in single institutions, particularly in S&T. Undergraduate training predominates, and it is common to see duplication of undergraduate programs, over-ambitious course offerings instead of specialization, and a failure to evolve into centers of excellence.

Solving the Next Generation problem will require highly trained academics working within functional universities and collaborating through networks and other kinds of academic communities. A collective effort in support of the Next Generation of Academics is an imperative for all with a stake in the future of African higher education.

All PHEA foundations are engaged in supporting the next generation of faculty, through a range of approaches. Since the 2005 Re-launch, PHEA foundations have invested over $40 million in support of faculty development. The largest proportion of support has aimed to improve the quality of postgraduate or faculty training and research. Support to university partners for postgraduate fellowships and intellectual exchange has also been significant. Experience with this grantmaking and several consultative meetings have yielded lessons on addressing some "push" factors within universities as well as "pull" factors operating in the external environment. See the 2008 University Leaders' Forum background materials for more details.

At the AAU 2007 COREVIP, university leaders indicated the importance of this issue. In early 2008 the PHEA convened a consultative workshop with a small set of university leaders, young scholars and researchers (see the workshop report) and a session with other funders regarding their commitment to the Next Generation of Academics (see the Funders' Perspectives report). Two focus groups with young scholar focus were convened in Nigeria. . To promote shared learning and stimulate action the PHEA supported the November 2008 University Leaders' Forum on Developing and Retaining the Next Generation of Academics. Institutional and national profiles of NGA indicators were commissioned .

Going forward the Partnership is looking at three strategic elements for support:

  1. Training interventions that utilize and strengthen existing postgraduate capacity and create communities of scholars. This includes postgraduate training networks, partnerships among universities, and centres of excellence for doctoral training.
  2. Institutional efforts to address the "push" factors that inhibit recruitment, development and retention of the next generation. This includes attention to policies, practices, services, infrastructure, and the scholarly environment.
  3. National higher education system differentiation, financing models and sector management policies. This requires engaging with governments, World Bank, AfDB, and the bilateral agencies.

Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Higher Education

Because ICT is key to enhancing the capacity of African universities to provide quality training and conduct high caliber research, the Partnership has been heavily engaged in ICT-related work from the outset. The priority for partner institutions was access to more bandwidth at lower cost, which is essential for teaching, learning and research at the universities. In 2005 almost all of the Joint Partnership grants focused in ICT. Building on work that began in 2002, the founding four foundations made $5 million in grants to the African Virtual University (AVU) to establish Africa's first bandwidth consortium for partner institutions, now hosted by the Nigerian ICT Forum. Hewlett joined with a $400,000 grant to AVU to purchase additional bandwidth. In view of the continuing high cost of connectivity on the continent, the Partnership has issued a Statement of Principles on affordable bandwidth for African universities. Finally, the Ford and Rockefeller foundations joined hands in grants to the Kenya Education Network (KENET), which permits KENET to link its 23 member universities to the bandwidth consortium system.

Partnership assistance on bandwidth was complemented by grants to the Tertiary Education Network (TENET) of South Africa and to the African Network Operators Group (AfNOG) to collaborate with grantees on bandwidth management training and implementation. The Mellon Foundation, which helped to establish TENET, also contributed funds to allow TENET to work on a sub-regional and regional basis on bandwidth management and the establishment of National Research and Education Networks. (NRENs).

Educational technology (eLearning) and the digitization of African research materials were also foci of grantmaking. The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation joined together in 2008 to launch a four-year eLearning initiative in partnership with the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) and the Centre for Educational Technology (CET) at the University of Cape Town. The Hewlett Foundation made two grants to AVU, totaling $950,000 for the development of eLearning materials. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) received $800,000 from Carnegie Corporation for collaboration with universities in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda on digital engineering laboratories. The Mellon Foundation, through its Aluka initiative, made over $3.3 million in grants for the digitization of images and information on African plants, as part of an effort to assist African institutions manage and disseminate African research information.

Regional Approaches to Institutional Capacity Building and Research

The Partnership is committed to regional networks that build economies of scale and critical mass in selected fields. Support to the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), the Association of African Universities (AAU), the University Science, Humanities and Engineering Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA) program, and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) fall within this category. In addition each of the Partnership foundations funds both regional and national research and postgraduate training networks. The Hewlett Foundation, for example, supports a number of population networks, such as the INDEPTH Network and Ford, Hewlett, and Rockefeller support the African Population Health Research Centre.

In 2005 the Partnership also commissioned a study to investigate how support for networks can strengthen those universities being assisted by Partnership members. A database of over 120 regional networks engaged in research and post-graduate education in Africa was developed, although it is not regularly updated.

Partnership foundations see regional networks as part of the solution to developing and retaining the Next Generation of Academics. Through the $4.9 million Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE), Carnegie is supporting university-based research and training networks to prepare PhD- and MSc-level scientists and engineers to teach in African universities.

Higher Education Research and Analysis

Across the two phases of the Partnership's work, higher education research and advocacy have been in addressed in a variety of ways. Much of the research has aimed at understanding the rapidly changing higher education sector, institutional transformation, and the contribution of higher education social and economic development in Africa. Seven case studies have been published covering Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria (in 2007), South Africa (2004), Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda (in 2003). The Partnership also funded the establishment of the Journal of Higher Education in Africa, originally published jointly by Boston College and CODESRIA through 2006 and now taken over by CODESRIA.

Other notable examples of Partnership work in this area include support for a survey of multilateral and bilateral support to higher education in Africa, investigations of the educational pipeline for girls and women in the three East African countries, and multi-country analyses of higher education financing models, and publications capturing university student voices.

The Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (HERANA) is a major PHEA-supported initiatives. HERANA a closely inter-related and coordinated set of research, policy, and advocacy networks supported by four PHEA foundations: Carnegie Corporation and the Ford, Kresge, and Rockefeller Foundations. Grants made to HERANA total $1.5 million. The final design of the project was discussed and agreed to by African Higher Education experts, including the Association of African Universities (AAU), at a meeting held in Dar es Salaam in January 2007. The Partnership grants have leveraged an additional $1.0 million grant from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) for the Higher Education masters degree training component not covered by the Partnership funds. HERANA has two research programs underway: (a) Higher Education and Economic Growth and (b) Higher Education and Democracy. Its advocacy efforts include the Africa edition of University World News and the HERANA Gateway.

© 2021 Partnership for Higher Education in Africa. Last updated: 12 October 2010