From left: Mr. Jeremy Coats, Ms. Claudia Frittelli, Prof. Ilesanmi Adesida, Ms. Everlyn Anyal, Prof. Paul Zeleza, Prof. Harry Kaane, Prof. Teboho Moja and Prof. Gibril Faal. PHOTO: COURTESY OF EVERLYN MUSA
By Evelyn Musa
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, chaired a Carnegie Africa Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) Advisory Council meeting from October 4 – 5, in New York, which was attended by Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) President Dr. Vartan Gregorian, and Institute of International Education (IIE) President Allan Goodman, their staff, program fellows, alumni, consultants and other stakeholders.
During the meeting, Prof. Zeleza expressed deep gratitude to CCNY on behalf of CADFP, for the continued funding support of the program, while Dr. Gregorian acknowledged that the program is enabling the African academic diaspora in the United States and Canada to stay academically connected with the African continent, and pledged to see this initiative grow in the coming years.
The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) is a scholar fellowship program for educational projects at African higher education institutions. Offered by IIE in collaboration with USIU-Africa where it is hosted, the program is funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY).
CADFP, which is now in its fifth year, has to date awarded 385 fellowships to enable diaspora scholars go to universities in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa, to support the various needs of universities. It has had a transformative impact on individuals and their institutions which has led other stakeholders with interest in Africa to adopt the model.
USIU-Africa and other stakeholders interested in the continent are leading this commitment to engage the diaspora. To further create impact, USIU-Africa has set up a program similar to CADFP, which is providing an opportunity for diaspora scholars to be hosted at the institution for up to three months, as well as provide the selected scholars with a round trip air ticket, food and accommodation.
During the meeting, Prof. Zeleza also shared some of the ongoing initiatives on program funding and collaboration opportunities which include a partnership with the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and the Bosch Foundation. CADFP is also holding discussions with governments on how diaspora scholars can contribute to the needs of higher education in Africa.
The Vice Chancellor identified some of the challenges facing African higher education that CADFP can address. They include low higher education enrolment rates, financing of higher education, limited pool of qualified faculty, unavailability of leadership training for higher education institutions leaders, weak research productivity, and high rates of unemployment among graduates. He implored the diaspora community to take on the challenge and invest in universities back home to address some of these challenges.
In elaborating how USIU-Africa is taking the lead in addressing some of these challenges, Prof. Zeleza informed the meeting about the skills for employability project rolled out by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The project focuses on equipping 20 million youth with skills for employability in the four pilot countries namely Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. USIU-Africa was chosen as the only private university in Kenya involved in this roll out program and as such will be hosting the Coding for Employment training project in Kenya.
He also described how MasterCard Foundation’s study on youth employability has presented CADFP with an opportunity to mobilize the diaspora to provide their skills and knowledge, noting that such organizations as AfDB, the World Bank, MasterCard Foundation are supporting these initiatives at the university and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) levels.
The Vice Chancellor informed the meeting that the Kenyan Government is keen to establish synergy between education and industry, and is championing this through the Chair of the USIU-Africa Board of Trustees Dr. Kevit Desai, who is also the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Vocational and Technical Education in the Ministry of Education, and the founding chairman of Linking Industry with Academia.
He concluded by informing the meeting that CADFP has resolved to form a Consortium for African Fellowship Programs to establish and implement the 10/10 program that will sponsor 1,000 African diaspora scholars, across the globe in all disciplines every year, for 10 years, to African universities and colleges for collaboration in all disciplines. The expanded scope will open up opportunities for CADFP to work with key funders and stakeholders in Africa, North America, Europe and elsewhere with large African academic diasporas.