African Doctoral Academy to Boost Ph.D. Training, Research Opportunities with $1M Grant

Grantees in this story

In a continuing effort to work with African institutions of higher education in their pursuit of excellence, Carnegie Corporation of New York will invest $1 million in a capacity-building initiative aimed at extending high-quality research training and support to current and prospective doctoral students, as well as providing training to doctoral supervisors.

The African Doctoral Academy (ADA), the grant recipient based at South Africa’s University of Stellenbosch, will draw on students from throughout the continent to focus on offering core competencies in research methodology, literature searches, as well as emphasizing the basic values of scholarship.  The award will also help equip academics for managing and supervising postgraduate students and house a dedicated research program on “the African doctorate.”

“If Africa is to regenerate its academic and scientific work force—as it must, if it is to combat brain drain and meet its extraordinary potential—it must remove many of the impediments that separate ambitious bright young men and women from the excellent research and training opportunities they so eagerly pursue and justifiably deserve,” said Tade Akin Aina, Program Director, Higher Education and Libraries in Africa at Carnegie Corporation.  “The ADA will provide prospective doctoral students with the necessary intellectual and academic tools to become successful scholars.”

The grant addresses an important challenge facing the African academy: the lack of a robust research infrastructure capable of offering the type of vibrant and sustained doctoral training necessary to attract, train and retain the continent’s brightest minds.  This inadequacy, along with the less than satisfactory quality of many of the available current programs constitute serious factors that impede the regeneration of the academic and scientific workforce in many African countries.

Commenting on the current dearth of - doctoral training and research capacity and of a vibrant culture to support and provide such resources, Professor Johann Mouton, Director of the ADA, said “The devastating impact of international policies on higher education in Africa and the continuing consequences of high-level academic and scientific brain drain have led to the growing ‘de-institutionalization’ of research at many African universities. One of the specific results of these trends has been the erosion of the capacity of many universities to offer doctoral programs and hence, produce doctoral graduates.”

“Even in South Africa it is now generally recognized that too few doctoral graduates are produced annually to serve the demands of government, industry and the broader society. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that the quality of doctoral graduates and studies in many countries are not high and that more investment is required in research methodology and theory courses to improve this situation. All of these factors mitigate against regenerating the academic and scientific workforce in these countries.”

The ADA trains approximately 200 doctoral students in research methods annually through its Winter and Summer Schools, and between 100 and 120 doctoral supervisors benefit from structured workshops in doctoral supervision.

The ADA has received additional support for this work from both the Ford Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation.