Three partnering institutions, namely the Institute of International Education (IIE), the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) and the Association of African Universities (AAU) organized a stakeholder forum in Accra, Ghana, on Thursday 28th April 2022, focused on diaspora engagement in higher education in Ghana. This event, hosted by the AAU, was under the aegis of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP), which is funded by CCNY through the IIE.
The stakeholder convening was held a day after the CADFP Advisory Council meeting, which was also hosted by the AAU at its Secretariat in Accra, Ghana to decide on awards to the next batch of grantees under the CADFP. It was explained that the AAU was chosen as a host because of its pan-African nature and wider reach, and the fact that the Association already has a strategy and program focusing on the
The CADFP is a fellowship grant to Africans in the diaspora to return to Africa to support the development of its higher education institutions. It was initiated in 2013 and has to date mobilized over 500 African academics in North America (USA and Canada) to support 168 higher education institutions in Africa in curriculum co-development, collaborative research, and postgraduate teaching and mentorship. Ghana has since 2014 hosted 83 of the fellows in 20 of its higher education institutions.
Among others, the stakeholder forum was hosted to share practices, challenges and opportunities related to engagement between
Ghanaian university hosts and the African academic diaspora and to explore the role of the diaspora in resource mobilization for Ghanaian higher education. Again, the forum was targeted at creating a platform for identifying strategic ways to integrate diasporic partnerships in strengthening the higher education sector in Ghana.
In addition to the program partners, Advisory Council members, representatives of host institutions, and CADFP fellows and alumni, the AAU, as the local host, deployed its convening power to pull to the forum other government officials, university leaders, and regional research
and inter-governmental organizations.
In attendance, as special guests were – Dr. Eric Nkansah, Director in charge of Tertiary Education, Ministry of Education (MoE), Ghana; Mr. Akwasi Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, Ghana; Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, former Minister of Education, Ghana; Mr. Abdoulrahamame Diallo – UNESCO Country Representative and Prof. Ernest Aryeetey – former VC, University of Ghana.
Welcoming participants at the forum, Prof. Olusola Oyewole, the Secretary-General of the AAU noted the immense benefits that the diaspora brings to host institutions in Africa and applauded the CADF program for its interventions and contributions to higher education in Africa over the years. He reiterated the AAU’s commitment to supporting academic diaspora focused-programs in Africa and used the opportunity to call on Vice Chancellors and all concerned stakeholders to embrace and recognize the African academics in the diaspora as virtual faculty members who will contribute to the overall targets and goals of African universities.
Ms. Claudia Frittelli, the Program Officer in charge of Higher Education and Research in Africa at the CCNY briefed participants on the work of the CCNY, including its support to African higher education for over 20 years. This, according to her, has led to long-term partnerships with some institutions, including the University of Ghana which spans almost 12 years. She emphasized the focus of the CCNY support, which is postgraduate training, research, diaspora linkages, and higher education policy development and management. She additionally walked participants through the highly competitive selection process carried out by the Advisory Council. Key statistics, including the fact that host institutions in Ghana had so far benefitted from 83 fellows were also shared with stakeholders at the forum.
The CADFP Multiplier Effect
Prof. Philomena Okeke-Ihejirika, a CADFP Advisory Council Member, introduced participants to a video capturing the multiplier effects of the fellowship program, which was developed earlier for the program’s Alumni Convening. The video showcased testimonies from some members of the Alumni Convening Steering Committee on the impact of their engagements in both host and home institutions, and on society at large. It projected key achievements in terms of scope, output and deliverables.
Some of their key activities while in the host institutions, as highlighted, included teaching, mentorship, graduate training, knowledge exchange, co-curricular development and research collaborations. The multiplier effects from their engagements, as reported, included their involvement in the organization of international conferences, creating communities of users, supporting their host institutions to establish partnerships with key institutions, being awarded huge grants for various purposes, and being able to support students to undertake further studies and advancement. The video’s link is provided here for further information – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yirMvIDYg_4
Sharing of Success Stories and Benefits from CADFP by Some Fellows and Host Institutions
Key successes and impact of the Fellowship programme were shared by both host institutions and fellows of CADFP. A few are profiled here at this section for the attention of stakeholders –
“Prof. Bernard Nii Boateng of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) explained that the resignation of two senior lecturers from the University’s Mathematics Department orphaned the unit and left it in the hands of few young faculty. An application to the CADFP yielded a positive outcome with their hosting of Ghanaian fellow who further supported the young faculty members to pursue their PhD programs. He reported that out of ten students who were supported to pursue their PhDs, nine have completed it and currently, eight are senior lectures while one is about completing the program. UMaT looks forward to applying again for a CADFP grantee with a mining background to support the University”
Some fellows also gave testimonies related to the welcoming environment and cordial atmosphere at the host institution in Ghana were there are undertaking the fellowship – Dr. Roselyne Okech from Memorial University, a diasporan of Kenya descent, testified that the
experience with her host was very fulfilling.
Contribution of the fellows to the development of pragrammes in Ghanaian HEIs also came out strongly through the testimonies shared –
Prof. Yaa Ntiamoah Badu of University of Ghana testified to the support University of Ghana (UG) has received from the CADFP and another program that CCNY funds, namely the UG Diaspora Linkage Program, which is open to all academics of African descent anywhere in the
world. As part of the Diaspora Linkage Program, the University’s young Engineering Faculty at the time was supported with professors from the diaspora who helped develop post-graduate programs which today has contributed to the Faculty becoming a School with Masters and PhD
The testimonies further brought to the fore the general inspiration and motivation which both the fellows and staff of their host institutions receive through their engagements –
Prof. Isaac Boateng of Akenten Appiah-Menka University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development (AAMUSTED) mentioned that their Staff had been inspired through their engagement with the fellows in research and authored articles, some of which had been submitted and were awaiting publication. He also added that AAMUSTED benefitted from the fellows by being linked to course and case studies materials from existing databases in the US which their faculty members could draw from.
Aside these great feedback and success stories shared with the CADFP, both the hosts and Fellows also shared key actions and recommendations to help improve and strengthen the programme.
Reiteration of AAU’s Commitment to Support African Diaspora Initiatives
The AAU Secretary General, Prof. Olusola Oyewole, in closing the forum expressed satisfaction with the successful organization of the event, which was capped with very positive comments about the impact of the CADFP in the personal lives of students and faculty, as well as in the programs being run by African higher education institutions. He highlighted that the program is beneficial to both parties, as the fellows also admit to benefitting from the fellowship, including gaining inspiration for their research work.
Prof. Oyewole reiterated the AAU’s commitment to continue supporting initiatives with a focus on the African Diaspora, as well to champion some of the suggestions from the Forum’s discussions, including running a similar staff mobility program that will facilitate experts from the continent to travel to support other academic institutions on the continent. He called on Carnegie and other development partner institutions to support the AAU on this journey.
Written By: Mrs Felicia Kuagbedzi, Senior Communications Officer at AAU