Forum forges new African partnerships in higher education, science and technology with China

September 22, 2017
China has a lot to offer Africa in terms of trade, finance, and development knowledge. Many Chinese institutions and private companies are already working with African counterparts to develop joint programs and promote exchanges, such as through PASET and the World Bank supported Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs), which bring together African countries and universities to cultivate high end talent and skills in STEM higher education.

On July 10-15, 2017, the 1st Africa-China-World Bank Education Partnership Forum, organized by the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), and the World Bank, forged new partnerships between leading universities, science and technology research institutes, and private enterprises of the two regions. The event was also supported by the Chinese Ministries of Finance, Education, and Agriculture, and Shanghai Normal University (SNU).

The Forum was organized in Beijing and Shanghai, with about 80 participants from 15 African countries and 46 Africa ACEs. The delegates showed strong interest in PASET’s regional benchmarking initiative for African universities, supported by Shanghai Ranking Consulting – the official publisher of the Academic Ranking of World Universities and incubated by SJTU. The delegates also shared their concerns about the legitimacy of global rankings with respect to African universities, and the World Bank presented next steps for the initiative, which launches its next round in February 2018.
Exchanges at the Forum
Most significantly, the African delegation was exposed to state of art higher education science and technology in China. They learned about innovations in science and technology in agriculture, health, renewable energy, education and other sectors in China; and practical approaches in teaching, learning, research, innovation and technology transfer and higher education management. Discussions on agriculture and climate change were particularly popular among the delegates, focusing on technology transfer in fertilizing soil/crops and water conservation technology.
The forum was inaugurated by the President of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Chunli Bai and officials from the Chinese Ministries of Finance and Agriculture. CAS’s immense architecture of over 20 graduate schools, 110+ research institutes and 500+ spin off companies including Lenovo illustrated the importance of linking university research with national development priorities. The delegation visited private companies including Lenovo, Sugon, and the Beijing Tidelion Rainwater Harvesting Technology that specializes in rain water conservation and green energy smart irrigation.  All these companies expressed interest in working with the ACEs.
The Path Forward

A number of new collaborations were forged at the Forum. In Beijing, Nanjing Agriculture University signed a bilateral MOU with the Egerton University Kenya to develop joint degree programs, faculty and student exchanges. Southwest Jiaotong University also developed a concrete partnership action plan with the Addis Ababa University on railway collaboration.

The Director of Higher Education Tanzania, Prof. Sylvia Temu said at the Forum: “The lessons drawn from over a decade of the Chinese government investment in higher education and research are vivid and with great tangible outcomes.  Consistency, focus on high level strategic issues of national priority as well as keeping abreast with international developments in higher education have proven to work in China. For me, this is a wakeup call.”

For more information, contact Xiaoyan Liang.

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