Carnegie Corporation of New York Awards More Than $4 Million in Second Round of Support to Two African Universities for Scholarship Programs for Undergraduate Women

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Makerere University in Uganda and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania each have received $2 million for three years from Carnegie Corporation of New York for a scholarship program for undergraduate women. These grants aim to improve the capacity of African universities to educate women. The Corporation initiated the scholarship program for women in 2001 and, to date, 503 women have received scholarships at these two universities.

“We believe an investment in scholarships for women is an investment in the creation of knowledge for Africa,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “In the countries where the Corporation works, women consistently occupy less than one quarter of the positions ranked senior lecturer and above and have yet to attain the top university positions in large numbers or achieve a significant presence in science or technology. We believe supporting and mentoring women undergraduates in significant numbers will help to strengthen African universities—one of the Corporation’s top goals.”

Makerere University’s female scholarship program aims to increase enrollment and retention of women undergraduates, especially in science and technology programs. The initiative gives priority to women from disadvantaged backgrounds and from parts of Uganda that traditionally send few students to university. In addition to financial support, the initiative encourages the retention of students through efforts such as regular forums organized by the scholarship program staff to enable students to share problems they are encountering and suggestions for improving the program. To date, 353 women have received scholarships at the university and 65 percent of them are studying in a science and technology discipline. With this grant, the university will recruit another three classes of students who will get support for all five years of undergraduate study. Tutoring and career development programs will be added to this round, as will expanded outreach aimed at changing societal attitudes about women and science.

The female scholarship program at the University of Dar es Salaam aims to help the university bridge its gender gap in the undergraduate population, with a special emphasis on the sciences and engineering. To date, 150 women have received scholarships; 29 percent of these students are enrolled in science-based programs. With this grant, the university will recruit three additional cohorts of students who will get support for all three years of undergraduate study. The scholarship program is collaborating with the university’s existing science pre-entry program for women, a six-week remedial course in math and science, to increase the percentage of scholarships awarded to science students.

A pilot eight-week pre-entry program in engineering is being implemented this year to increase enrollment of women in the prospective College of Engineering and Technology. Counseling and career development programs are also being developed to improve retention, and expanded outreach programs will focus more intensively on women and science.

“These grants are part of the Corporation’s strategy to remove financial barriers to women’s participation in university education in Africa,” said Andrea Johnson, program officer of the Corporation’s International Development Program. “As more universities begin charging or increasing tuition fees, we believe women will find it even harder to pay for university training than their male counterparts. Scholarship programs both enable women to participate and to allow universities to gain experience with student financial aid programs in order to reduce gender inequality in their institutions.”

Besides the two scholarship programs in Uganda and Tanzania, the Corporation also supports a national program for women in South Africa and female undergraduate financial aid programs at three Nigerian universities.

These grants are part of the Corporation’s contribution to the Foundation Partnership to Strengthen African Universities, a four-foundation collaboration launched in April 2000 by the Ford, MacArthur and Rockefeller foundations and the Corporation aimed at raising awareness about the importance of higher education in African development. The partner foundations are working collectively on research and communication, while maintaining distinct individual foundation grantmaking priorities. The partnership announced an investment of $100 million in African universities during the first five years of its work.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $1.8 billion on September 30, 2003. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.