Carnegie Corporation Continues Commitment to Supporting Higher Education in sub-Saharan Africa

Grantees in this story

New York, New York, December 21, 2009 — Following on a 10-year more than $100 million investment to strengthen higher education in Africa, Carnegie Corporation of New York's President, Vartan Gregorian, announced today that the foundation expects to make an initial investment of approximately $30 million over the next three years in a new strategy that will strengthen sub-Saharan Africa's next generation of educators and university leaders. 

Grants will focus on three countries, South Africa, Ghana and Uganda, while a series of complementary discipline-based regional networks will offer competitive training fellowships to draw academics and researchers throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Commenting on the new strategy, Gregorian said, "With the fastest-growing rates of university enrollment in the world and research demonstrating higher education's positive impact on economic growth, poverty reduction, national health and governance, Africa's universities are making an increasingly critical contribution in helping to shape the discussion about the continent's future. But if Africa's universities are to be truly effective in their role as leadership institutions as well as in providing opportunities for students eager for knowledge and success, they must maintain and even expand their cohort of highly trained and qualified professors and academics."

Gregorian continued, "In that connection, the often inadequate preparation of those who enter academia and the rising tide of retirements among Africa's aging ranks of educators present problems that must be addressed. As the nations of Africa set their sights on being competitive in global markets and hence, advancing national development and stability, they will rely more and more on the power of excellent education to ensure that men and women across the continent are ready to meet the challenges ahead."

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a founding member of the seven-foundation Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, whose total investments surpass $350 million. The Partnership was created to strengthen Africa's institutions of higher education so that they can better contribute to poverty reduction, economic growth and social development in their respective countries. Outcomes from partners' investments range from more and cheaper Internet bandwidth for universities and the establishment of research and training networks in the sciences and social sciences to the launch of a new Internet gateway for the collection and dissemination of research.

Builds Upon Female Scholarship Investments and University-Strengthening
Over the past 10 years the foundation has invested more than $20 million to fund a variety of scholarships and fellowships intended to increase enrollment and retention of women, particularly in science and technology programs. Of the more than 5,000 students in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria supported through this work, many are from disadvantaged backgrounds and from regions of their countries that are traditionally under-represented in universities. In addition to financial support, Carnegie Corporation's initiative has included efforts aimed at encouraging the retention of female students and leadership opportunities.

Carnegie Corporation's new human capital strategy builds upon the female scholarship work as well as the foundation's ten-year commitment to strengthen African universities--a strategy the Corporation pursued in collaboration with the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa.

New Directions

The Corporation's new phase of grantmaking to strengthen human capital will fall into three critical areas: Investing in Africa's Next Generation, Supporting ICTs for Research and Education, and Enhancing Libraries and Access to Information (see fact sheet for additional detail on programmatic goals).

The foundation's new grantmaking strategy will be focused on three countries--South Africa, Ghana and Uganda--and will also create and support networks through all of Sub-Saharan Africa. Discipline-based scientific networks like the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE), administered by the Institute for Advanced Study, combines researchers and academics working on specific scientific issues via five regional networks. The Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), another foundation-supported network, is housed at the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi and focuses on building and retaining world-class multidisciplinary researchers in public health.

The aim of networks like RISE and CARTA is to create a new generation of African scholars who know each other and will work together across national and disciplinary boundaries. By training people in African-based institutions, and bringing them together for intense collaboration, the foundation hopes to create a practical mechanism for researchers across the continent to work and learn together.

Tade Aina, Carnegie Corporation's Program Director, Higher Education in Africa, said, "For Africans to address their continent's complex challenges including deepening democracy, nurturing tolerance, consolidating the protection of human rights, and fostering accountability of public authorities, we and others must continue to nurture a rising generation of women and men who will contribute to the continued growth of democracy and development on the African continent."

Aina continued, "The grantmaking going forward is essentially a deepening and realignment of our support for African universities based on the priority areas identified by university leaders and stakeholders on the continent. It builds on the institutional strengths and reach of a handful of universities working alongside disciplinary networks and using competitive fellowships to produce more post-graduates in disciplines and areas identified by the universities."

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do "real and permanent good in this world."

FACT SHEET: Carnegie Corporation of New York's Africa Grantmaking

Priority One: Investing in Africa's Next Generation

To recruit, develop and retain the next generation of African academics demands that the Corporation address "push" factors, which usually occur within an individual's country of origin and inhibit recruitment, development and retention by pushing academics--or those considering a career in academia--out of the profession and often out of the country. In this connection, the foundation will also focus on the deliberate and/or unintended outside actions that "pull" academics--or potential academics--to other countries or other professions.

Within this subprogram, the foundation's grantmaking priorities will be:
Strengthen postgraduate and research programs in the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences. Attractive opportunities for postgraduate training and research, with integrated retention programs, will help increase the supply of qualified academics and university leaders.

Create new and strengthen existing discipline-based regional research and training networks. The Corporation has funded far-reaching regional networks like the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE), administered by the Institute for Advanced Study, which combines researchers and academics working on specific scientific issues via five regional networks. Another recent grant to support is the award to the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya to develop a Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) which will build institutional and individual capacity by fostering multi-disciplinary research hubs at African universities.

Create new fellowship opportunities for training and retaining academics and researchers. This builds on earlier support for undergraduate scholarships to advance women and minorities. Grantmaking in this area began with the Humanities Fellowship Program for Africa humanities scholars, administered by the American Council of Learned Societies. Also, last year, a grant was made to Kings College, London, in cooperation with several African universities, for establishing a training program on international peace and security. Both the Corporation-funded networks and competitive fellowships reach scholars beyond the three countries--South Africa, Ghana and Uganda--in which the Corporation will focus its efforts to strengthen post-graduate education.

Strengthen leadership and management of senior academics and promote policy initiatives to sustain gains of higher education reforms. Recognizing that senior university leaders are often appointed based on their academic qualifications and are seldom trained to manage complex organizations, grants will support efforts to improve the caliber and effectiveness of leadership and management in areas ranging from strategic planning and budgeting to human resources management and faculty development.

Priority Two: ICTs for Research and Education

To meet Africa's critical shortage of qualified faculty and academic leaders, and to support those women and men who have committed to careers in higher education, will require expanding the reach and enhancing the effectiveness of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a teaching tool in support of subject-based regional research and training networks.

Within this subprogram, the foundation's grantmaking priorities will be:
Increase and expand the connectivity of universities and disciplinary networks and deepen the use of ICTs in teaching research and management. Even with the five-year investments of the Bandwidth Consortium, an initiative of the multi-foundation Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, the quality, availability and affordability of bandwidth prevents research institutions from taking full advantage of the Internet. The foundation continues to support iLabs, a project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that allows African university students to remotely conduct complex experiments in the same Web-based labs used by students at MIT.

Priority Three: Libraries and Access to Information

Libraries, like universities, are levers of change within societies. They serve a critical role in improving literacy levels, and act as information hubs--often providing a community's only access to electronic communication. African libraries are generally given a low priority by governments and international funders and most have severely deteriorated infrastructure, stock and services. The Corporation has been making major investments in sub-Saharan African libraries and has leveraged additional funding from governments to rebuild public libraries in South Africa and to revitalize the libraries of several universities on the continent.

Within this subprogram, the foundation's grantmaking priorities will be:
Create model university libraries to deepen academic research. University administrators have identified modern libraries as a top priority, and the Corporation considers libraries indispensable for nurturing the next generation of African academics and educational leaders. Earlier grants have strengthened several university libraries, including new buildings, automation and Internet connectivity as well as development of a research commons and portal linking the libraries of six South African universities. This project included training programs for staff to assist with high-end research and publications and to enable shared access to the collections of the participating universities. A unique one-time grant to the Library of Congress enabled it to work with digitization projects in sub-Saharan Africa and in Russia/Eurasia. New work will support university libraries and research commons in Ghana; initiate a training program for technologically sophisticated university librarians; provide technical assistance for postgraduate training and research and expand access to free electronic resources.