Walter Wilson Nana
African scholars, researchers are discussing and formulating ideas on how to circulate the mental and academic resources they have across the continent and not going to stay in the West. This is amongst the issues African scholars, researchers and their partners have deliberated upon at the Erasmus Mundus STREAM Scholarship scheme hosted by the University of Buea, UB, from January 27 – 28 2014.
Coordinator of the STREAM project in Africa, Zambian born Prof. Lameck Mwewa, lecturer at the Polytechnic of Namibia, said they are running about 132 scholarships, which they had advertised, some students across the African continent applied and they are in UB to do the selection and give the approvals. “These are students selected by our part universities, they have the list and we as a Board decides on the candidates to win the grants after a thorough evaluation process,” he said.
Mwewa noted that the STREAM project is the fallout of a situation whereby African students went to study in Europe, got the good education, jobs and will not come back to plough the knowledge. “This is amongst the many problems we have. So, now, we have created this opportunity to allow African students move and study around the continent. That way, we will be doing a brain circulation and not brain drain,” he explained.
According to Mwewa, African universities
have been operating for a long time, independently, so the internationalisation is becoming a big issue. “STREAM promotes that exchange of staff and students. We also build the capacities of universities. We offer Ph.D programmes, giving opportunities for our university staff who are interested to do a Ph.D move out of their university and do it elsewhere. We are also achieving harmonisation of curricula. A student from the University of Buea can go to a Ghanaian university, pick up some credits
and bring them back to Buea conveniently and moves on to graduate without hitches. This is helping us to see how other universities operate, calculate credits, build curricula and more,” he said
Though the current STREAM Scholarship scheme is expected to end in 2016, Mwewa indicated that there is a way forward. “Our 2011 budget will be exhausted by 2016. So, we are discussing on how to sustain this network. We are strategising on how to look out for new funding agencies for research and capacity development. We will be applying as a group to be led by one of our partner universities; it could be UB or any others to continue this collaboration. We will not want to stop after 2016,” he mentioned.
Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Teaching, Information and Communication Technology, UB, Prof. Joyce Bayande Endeley and organiser of the STREAM scholarship scheme in UB defined what the project is all about. “This is a strengthening capacity building project across the African continent. It is a mobility grant and exchange programme. Students are given scholarships to study in other African countries besides their own,” he said.
While she will add that UB is one of the beneficiary universities in Cameroon, with their students winning grants to study in other parts of Africa, the other countries and universities involved include; the Kwame Nkrumah Science and Technology University in Kumasi, Ghana, the Free State University and Northwest University in South Africa, the Polytechnic of Namibia, which is part of Namibia’s University of Science and Technology, the Awasa University in Ethiopia, the Makerere University in Uganda, and the University of Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Prof. Endeley indicated that the bid for the STREAM scholarship scheme is open for all and interested persons can check the STREAM website. “When there is call for application anybody can give a try, which will continue with the selection process we have just done, following the quota assigned to various countries,” she added.
Earlier, a delighted Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, Dr. Nalova Lyonga while welcoming the delegates to UB and Cameroon said her university is working hard in the STREAM scholarship project, especially their students and staff from the Faculties of Science, Health Sciences and Education respectively.
The UB VC found in the consortium a tool to not only promote research, academia in the African varsity milieu but a unique opportunity to enhance South – South cooperation ties.
The Erasmus Mundus STREAM Intra – African Caribbean Pacific Programme is funded by the European Commission.