ESSA News Round-up

Each week we will select stories we feel are interesting in the education space.
By Peter Burdin

Ghost Workers Hamper University Pay Talks

The presence of Ghost workers on Kenyan university payrolls is holding up a new pay offer for lecturers.

Education Secretary Amina Mohamed says that an audit of university payrolls have revealed some 2,513 ghost workers. The Public universities submitted a report indicating that they have about 30,312 staff but the audit revealed a lower figure of 27,798 staff.

The Audit also revealed that a significant number of staff at universities are receiving salaries which are higher than the agreed pay scales.

The Education Secretary confirmed that only 15 out of 31 universities had so far submitted their payrolls for scrutiny and this was delaying pay talks to end an ongoing national strike of lecturers which has disrupted classes for over two weeks.

A new pay offer will only be made once all the payroll data has been analysed.

Full story published in Business Daily /

East Africa’s Youth Survey Reveals Striking Differences

A survey of 7,000 young people from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda has revealed a range of contrasting opinions about their sense of identity, ethnicity and social attitudes.

The East Africa Institute of Aga Khan University discovered that 34% of the young people interviewed put their nationality as their main identity, compared to just 11% who identified themselves by their religion first and only 3.5% who put their tribe or ethnicity first.

Faith is very important to young people with some 80% valuing their religious beliefs higher than money which 37% said was the most important.  25% put freedom first.

Social attitudes to wealth and money revealed that about 60% of the young people questioned admired people who used get-rich-quick schemes, while 53% said they would do anything to get money.

A third believed that there is nothing wrong with corruption while 37% said they would be happy to give or take a bribe. Attitudes in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania were broadly the same but young people in Rwanda were clear that corruption was wrong and most said they would never take or give a bribe.

Full story published in The Conversation /

Data Is King for East Africa

In a new move which underlines the importance of data to the future of business on the continent Africa Data Centres has expanded its central office in Nairobi.

The company which is part of the pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom will provide an extra 500 square metres of rack space to add to its existing 2,000 square metres. This will enable leading cloud service providers, carriers and enterprises to host their business-critical data, cloud-based services, applications and back-end systems in Africa.

East Africa Data Centres is the region’s largest and most connected data centre facility. It is interconnected with Africa Data Centres’ other carrier-neutral facilities in South Africa and Zimbabwe and provides growing evidence of the importance of data to the continent enabling businesses to host their data and cloud-based services in Africa.

Data centres are providing a platform for businesses and governments to explore new opportunities presented by Big Data.

The Nairobi-based Strathmore Business School is partnering with Liquid Telecom to establish a direct fibre link to its campus which will provide data-driven research and practices for African businesses. The partnership will facilitate data analytic services such as data mining, predictive analysis and exploratory data analysis.

Full story published in IT News Africa / 

Nigeria Seeks to Educate Its Missing Millions

Nigeria's education system is seeking international help as it faces a demographic explosion which will see it become the third-largest country in the world by 2050 with a bigger population than the United States.

There are already millions of Nigerians don’t attend school and the government is struggling to expand its education sector. For those who matriculate from school more than 75,000 study abroad, largely due to a lack of facilities at domestic universities. In 2015, Nigeria was ranked 103rd out of 118 countries in UNESCO's Education for All movement.

 Funding is a major problem with education accounting for just 10% of the Nigerian government's budget, well below the 26% budgetary proportion recommended by UNESCO.

Despite this enrollment rates are increasing steadily and literacy rates are rising. Now there is a new drive to improve STEM education by using Nigeria's international connections to install rigorous curriculums and increase knowledge transfers.

Nigeria has initiated a number of collaborative programs with international investors to draw upon their technological experience to build new STEM learning opportunities for Nigerian students. The US-based Global Partnership of Education has given Nigeria more than USD100 million in grants to raise the quality of education.

Last year a robotics-training suite for more than 450 Nigerian students as well as a general STEM education center for teachers and researchers was set up in Lagos.  The US initiative will donate more than 100 robots to schools to give students an opportunity to apply design and programming skills.

The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation is also engaging in this drive to improve Nigeria’s STEM education. It has opened new three classrooms in Lagos as part of a larger Chinese educational investment project which includes a plan to open a chemical technology university in Nigeria and further develop exchange programs with Nigerian public universities.

The Nigerian government hopes initiatives like these will aid the technological literacy needed to create a knowledge economy allowing Nigeria to start to meet the aspirations of its coming youth population.

Full story published in The Business Year /