AfDB approves 45 million dollar grant for the Pan Africa University

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The university will have five institutions based in East, West, Central, North and Southern Africa that that will focus on science, technology and innovation in higher education.

“The bank, over the past two years has outlined a new strategy for education in Africa and we call it the New Education Model for Africa and it’s really capitalising on what we now call the third revolution of education, if we think writing was the first evolution, printing the second,” Agnes Soucat, the director of human development department at AfDB told CNBC Africa on Thursday.

“We think the IT revolution is the third evolution and is profoundly changing the schooling models that were developed in the 20th century with the “massification” of education. So we call y for new approaches to education that build on the potential for Africa to leapfrog, as well as a model of education that prepare students better for jobs of today and for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The AfDB believes that the Pan African University will provide a much needed educational platform that closely integrates technology and education.

The university’s main aim is to better link education and students with the markets and businesses of today and ensure that students are equipped with skills that will allow them to manage in the working world.

The university will also have a very strong virtual component.

“It’s going to be a network university. We’ve moved a bit from the universities of excellence to the network of excellence, so bringing together the best universities of Africa into a network and helping each of them to specialise for post-graduate programmes, Masters, PhDs so that we also provide the needed support to research, which is still where Africa lags behind,” Soucat explained.

Of the top 400 universities worldwide, only four are in Africa, with the continent producing only 11 per cent of world scientific knowledge.

The pillars that will hold the PAU up are using ICT to promote academia in Africa. In a continent where majority of the countries are battling with poor infrastructure, having the necessary human capital to take the university off the ground will be a challenge.

“Infrastructure is a constraint but we see that it’s a constraint that is possible to address with the right investment. Energy may be more of a problem but solar energy is something that is often enough to power a cell phone, a tablet, and a laptop,” said Soucat.