The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa is an initiative of The Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
It was launched in May 2000 to "reaffirm the importance of a vibrant intellectual environment in Africa in nourishing social, political, and economic transformation." The four foundations wanted to "signal their faith in African university leaders, who are rebuilding their institutions so that they can respond to changing societal needs." In order to do this, they support selected African universities and other centers of intellectual inquiry in their efforts to stimulate enlightened, equitable, knowledge-based national development.
The Partnership represents both a belief in the importance and viability of higher education in Africa and a mechanism to provide meaningful assistance to its renaissance.
The Partnership believes that because of its efforts, interest in African universities is greater today than it was when it began in May 2000.
Because of its initiative, the Partnership has influenced funding levels by the foundations and other donors. Additionally, it has influenced the interest and ability of African researchers to carry out higher education policy analysis.
The Partnership has used a case study approach to build knowledge and consensus about the transformations under way in different universities and to inform strategic interventions for policy makers and donors.
Four case studies had been completed. One each at the University of Dar es Salaam and Makerere University, another which takes a system-wide approach to higher education in Mozambique, and one that concentrates on strategic cooperation options and scenarios for tertiary-level institutions in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
There are also case studies under way in Ghana, which examines that country's public and private universities; and in Nigeria which focuses on institutional studies of four universities: Ahmadu Bello University, Bayero University, the University of Ibadan, and the University of Port Harcourt.
In addition to the above named case studies, there are also three systemic studies taking place. One study is on higher education in Nigeria's national context. Another study is on ICT in Nigeria. The third study is on gender in that nation.
The Partner has combined the selection of local scholars to conduct the studies with a methodology that incorporates active feedback from the institutions involved and other stakeholders. And it has found this approach to be effective. It believes that African ownership of the case studies is important for two reasons - "it provides legitimacy and it demonstrates the capacity of African researchers."
Additionally, the Partnership states that its efforts have enhanced research capacity and have promoted the exchange of ideas and experience across the continent.
As a complement to the individual case studies the Partnership is also supporting analytic work on higher education trends in Africa and on African higher education in the global context.
This research is believe to deliver two fold benefits. It will enhance understanding of innovations and transformation within African higher education systems and institutions and it will guide future funding decisions by Partnership foundations.
In addition to the projects above, the Partnership has funded two meetings in 2001 that examined higher education in a global context and Africa's place within this changing paradigm:
A symposium on "Higher Education in Emerging Economies: Patterns, Policy and Trends." Was held at the Salzburg Seminar for the purpose of reviewing available information about patterns, policies, and trends; to identify current human capital and institutional resources engaged in higher education analysis; and to brainstorm about actions that could help national and international institutions perform more effectively to meet future challenges.
That same year the Yale University International Higher Education Initiative received funding to convened a conference on "International Higher Education and African Development" with the help of funding from the Partnership. This conference provided an opportunity for US and African academics, government representatives, and members of the donor community to explore issues of concern to universities in both developed and developing countries.
The four foundations contributed an aggregate $62.3 million toward higher education development in six focus countries and on an Africa-wide basis during 2000 and 2001. Those six countries are: Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The funds were used for joint grantmaking by the Partnership and individual foundation support for selected universities in Partnership countries. The two forms of grantmaking are called: the "Joint Partnership Initiatives" and the "Individual Partnership Initiatives."
The Partner Foundations each made a commitment to provide a minimum of $100 million over five years. These funds will be contributed towards both Joint Partnership Initiatives and Individual Partnership Initiatives. However, the Foundations are ahead of their giving schedule, and the $100 million does not include funds provided to "non-partnership" countries in Africa.
The current priorities for future work of the Partnership include:
Information and Communication Technologies
Emerging Models of Higher Education
Research on Higher Education
Mandate and Role of African Universities
Core functions of the Partnership that are intended to meet the major challenges to African universities include:
- Providing financial support that:
Concentrates on universities in countries undergoing systemic public policy reform;
Selects universities that are initiating positive change, have a workable strategic plan, and have demonstrated commitment to national capacity building;
Reinforces creative university leadership that can promote a systematic process of internal reflection and institutional change;
Facilitates innovations directed at producing and reconfiguring knowledge for problem-solving, building adaptable skills, and promoting and rewarding intellectual creativity;
Strengthens the ability of individual institutions to play their distinctive role within differentiated national systems of higher education; and encourages inter-institutional collaboration.
- Supporting African and other analysts considering the causes and consequences of change in African universities; examining global trends affecting the evolution of university development in Africa.
- Assisting participating university leaders to identify common challenges across countries through regional networks and to build economies of scale and critical mass in selected fields, especially in the sciences and basic social research.
- Advocating the essential role of strong universities in sustaining economic growth, community coherence, and social justice; stimulating external support; and sharing information with African governments, other funders and the general public, including the individual and institutional grantees that the foundations assist.
- Supporting a forum of leaders of African universities to share each other's experience, concerns, and strategic thinking, and linking this group to the global higher education community.
- Reflecting with participating institutions on foundation grant strategy, assessing what has been achieved and, as part of a communications initiative, sharing what has been learned.
There is a lot going on with the The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa and to get the full story, the web site can be found at: