USHEPiA Fellows Rafiki Yohana (left) of the University of Dar es Salaam and Norbit Musekiwa (right) of the University of Zimbabwe were congratulated by vice-chancellor Dr Max Price at UCT's June 2010 graduation ceremony. Yohana completed her PhD in English. Her UCT supervisor was Professor Raj Meshrie and her home supervisor was Dr Daniel Mkunde. Musekiwa completed his PhD in political science. His UCT supervisor was Emer Prof Robert Schrire and his home supervisor was Dr Billy Makumari.
Since its inception in 1996, the University Science Humanities and Engineering Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA) has served as a one of the SADC region's flagship capacity-building programmes.
The programme was established to develop African academic staff, and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Universities of Botswana, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Makerere, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
The programme offers postgraduate fellowships, mainly at doctorate level, to staff members in the partner universities. It benefits from funding mainly from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and the Andrew W Mellon Foundation.
Since the programme's inception 71 full degree Fellowships have been in operation, and to date 43 postgraduates with specialties in Africa have graduated. All have remained on the continent, with most still working at their home institutions.
Director of the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO), Dr Loveness Kaunda, believes this to be significant in the light of USHEPiA's objective to develop capacity in the partner universities.
"This is great news for Africa, as it means the programme has led to 'brain circulation' - as opposed to a brain drain!"
Kaunda believes USHEPiA provides a unique platform for capacity development in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Some 250 academics from the eight partner universities have now worked together building a network that incorporates professional expertise, leadership collaboration, and personal relationships."
"The potential for the USHEPiA model is enormous now that trust and mutual understanding have been achieved. The future, and the possibility of endowment funding, are being considered by all the partners this year."
She added that a number of capacity- building programmes are being developed and funded throughout Africa, based on the USHEPiA model as a benchmark. "This in itself is an important indicator of USHEPiA's success."
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