Africa’s next generation of academics in the spotlight at international gathering

December 2010

As part of its participation in SABINA (Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products) – a Carnegie-IAS RISE network – the ACGT was recently represented at the Carnegie Corporation Networks Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel from 15 to 16 November 2010, the meeting served as a discussion session under the theme of ‘Developing and retaining the next generation of African academics: Excellence, retention and sustainability’  Leaders from the five RISE networks and other Carnegie grantees joined Carnegie Corporation of New York staff to discuss various issues affecting post-graduate training in Africa within this context.

ACGT Director – Dr Jane Morris – was accompanied by Prof John Saka under the auspices of SABINA, while ACGT partner institutions University of Pretoria (UP) and Wits University were also represented in their own rights. Prof Cheryl de la Rey (UP Vice-Chancellor) and Prof Loyiso Nongxa (Wits Vice-Chancellor) chaired sessions titled, “The state of post-graduate training for emerging academics”, and “Sustaining the next generation”, respectively.

According to Dr Morris, a number of discussion points were tabled at the start of the meeting, charting the course for the two-day proceedings. These revolved around the following general questions:

  • “What is the mission of universities?’;
  • “What is the role of African universities in global partnerships?”;
  • “What is the role of the African Diaspora in African higher education?”;
  • “What is the market size for African academics?”;
  • “Quality vs quantity of academics produced”;
  • “What is the role of ICT?”, and
  • “The strengthening of older academics vs the younger generation”.

Dr Morris adds that much value was gleaned from the “interesting mix of people who are working on actual scientific projects and people who are in academic administration” that were in attendance at the meeting. The Carnegie-funded initiatives that were represented included a project aimed at ‘promoting excellence in postgraduate training and research and retention of emerging academics at leading African universities’, encompassing the University of Ghana; Makerere University, Uganda; University of Cape Town; and Wits University. The Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) and various competitive fellowship programmes also had representation at the meeting.

A number of valuable inputs were received from the Carnegie grantees in attendance. These will be taken further by the Corporation and will go a long way in assisting it to achieve its vision of “promoting the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding”.