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2014-02-18 16.47.38

Yesterday I crashed the meeting of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), an organization that primarily counts US-based institutional leaders engaged in international education as its members in downtown DC.  Tuesday had several panels on Africa and Kwame Appiah had been a keynote speaker on Monday.  I missed a panel on ‘Optimizing International Collaborations in Africa‘ and ‘Opportunities for Transformative Change of African Higher Education: Implications for US Higher Education Institutions‘, but heard a speaker from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and another panel on collaborative partnerships in Africa.

The ‘Roadmap for Internationalization: Looking to the Future‘ roundtable was a bit abstract.  Chaired by Nico Jooste of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, it examined the launch of a series of global dialogues on rethinking the internationalizaton of higher education, something the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) has played a prominent role in.  Jooste expressed concern that IEASA meetings do not get nearly the same level of attendees as the AIEA meetings, asking if their debates were somehow less relevant.  Ultimately, a lot of good questions were raised about the lopsided nature of internationalization, but I didn’t leave convinced that the international education global dialogues would make much of a substantive difference, but someone has to try.

The ‘Models for Initiating and Sustaining Sub-Saharan Africa and US HEI Partnerships‘, was a bit more typical of what one would expect at these sort of conferences.  Moderated by Clara Priester of EducationUSA (a State Department sponsored network of higher education advising centers abroad).  Three panelists spoke on the relationship of their institutions with higher ed institutions in Ethiopia, the Comoros, and Ghana.

From L:

From L: Mayes, Francisconi, Jackson, and Priester

In her introduction, I learned from the moderator that the top five African nations sending students to the US for study abroad are (in order): Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Cameroon.  The top five African nations for US students to study abroad  are (in order): South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Cheryl Francisconi, who is currently of EducationUSA, but until recently headed the Institute of International Education’s Ethiopia office spoke of an IIE sponsored conference on US – Ethiopian higher education partnerships – I’m not sure when it took place, but I think relatively recently.  She noted that the conference participation was about 75% domestic, 25% American.  Illustrating the dividends of being a westerner in Africa, she noted that the American attendees were simply people who happened to already be in the region – I shall be sure to remember to approach IIE for workshop opportunities if I ever find myself in Ethiopia.  The conference ended with a few small seed grants to lay the groundwork for international partnerships.  She noted that the grants have had mixed results.

Minnie Battle Mayes, of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T) spoke on the relationship her institution has built with the engineering school of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana since 1996.

After some early work bringing KNUST undergrads to NC A&T, the collaboration now focuses on training graduate students and KNUST faculty, with three week visits for undergraduates.  Mayes noted that the collaboration with KNUST has increased the visibility of NC A&T in Ghana, leading to a high number of admissions to Ghanaians in general.  NC A&T students frequently travel to KNUST for ten day programs over Spring Break.

Mayes attributes much of the success of the program to the efforts of a NC A&T faculty member who completed undergraduate studies at KNUST.

Arlene Jackson rounded out the panel with a discussion on the work of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in the Comoros, which established its first institution of higher education relatively recently.