Six Italian universities together with Africa. A virtual mobility programme and an Advanced Professional Course for researchers and lecturers are now underway
Sapienza University, together with the Politecnico di Milano, the Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, the University of Florence, the University of Naples Federico II, and the University of Padua, have signed the deed of incorporation of the "Italian Higher Education with Africa" foundation. The Italian Minister of University and Scientific Research, Gaetano Manfredi, participated remotely.
This event reinforces a path which has started almost two years ago, aimed at promoting the internationalisation of African universities and contributing, from a cooperation point of view to local development. The Foundation, the President of which is the Rector Eugenio Gaudio, aims to develop, using appropriate interdisciplinary scientific methodologies, the education and training of students living in African countries and to promote support and continuing education courses for staff and academic staff of local universities. The IHEA Foundation universities have been working during COVID-19 emergency to structure a multi-level training programme to support the resilience of African education systems.
The first steps have already been taken: the virtual mobility programme, aimed at a few African partner universities, has been activated during the current semester. A pre-established number of students will be selected to participate in some of the online courses.
The Foundation's universities, in agreement with the Italian Ministry of University and Research, have taken the opportunity to deliver their courses both in-person and online also thanks to the positive distance-learning experience of the last semester. At the moment about ten agreements have been finalised with some of the following universities:
- Cameroon - Catholic University of Cameroon
- Kenya - Strathmore University, Technical University of Mombasa
- Somalia - Somali National University
- Tanzania - Mandela Institute of Technology
- Tanzania - t. Francis University College of Health and Applied Sciences
- Etiopia - Mekelle University
The selected students are to all intents and purposes exchange students, and therefore the partner institution guarantees the recognition of the courses they will attend.
In order to strengthen the resilience of tertiary education systems, the Foundation is also working on the definition of a University Advanced Professional Course dedicated to young researchers and lecturers at African universities.
The multidisciplinary programme aims to implement a set of transversal knowledge for education and research on strategic issues for the African continent, such as resource management and local development.
The Advanced Professional Courses, which will be launched in 2021, is inspired by the Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 and includes several theoretical and practical modules, each managed by lecturers from the IHEA Foundation's universities while encouraging the active participation of lecturers from African universities themselves.
Our wish is to work, from the very beginning of the Advanced Professional Course, with African colleagues who have also been in the programme and to create, together, innovative degree programmes focused on the following fields:
- civil and environmental
- mechanical and energy;
- cultural heritage.
Our goal is to help develop the necessary skills needed on the continent and promote the quality of the Italian educational system, as the first pilot example of Transnational Education for our country.
"This venture," said Gaetano Manfredi, Italian Minister of University and Research, "reinforces a path launched a few months ago, about a new vision of the relationship between Italian universities and internationalisation. It is not just attracting international students, but being there as universities. This is to provide an effective response to the ever-increasing demand for tertiary education and training which, as the OECD figures show, will involve tens of millions of young people around the world in the coming years: we think that Italy must play a primary role in meeting this future huge demand for education and training. This first experience in the Horn of Africa will, therefore have to be multiplied. Our action as a university system must necessarily follow a logic of cooperation with local realities. Guaranteeing young people the training to which they aspire means forming a new ruling class, developing local entrepreneurship, raising the levels of democracy in those territories. I believed in these policies as Rector; I will continue to do so as Minister".