|The Courier N° 156 - March - April 1996 - Dossier: Trade in Services - Country Report : Madagascar (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
by Amin Kassam
'I tried for about a year to get information on institutions in Africa where I could study but I couldn't get any. That's why I came to Europe,' says Alex Kyabowampi, a Ugandan student at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Alex, who works with a Churchbased rural NGO, says no programme focusing on rural development is available in Uganda.
This is a common complaint among ACP students who go to Europe for further studies. In some cases, however, courses of equivalent quality are available in other ACP states but students do not have access to, sufficient information about them. Had the information been available, Alex would have chosen to study in a nearby country, to be nearer his wife and children - if, of course, he had obtained a scholarship. To meet this need for information, the EU is financing a project to produce a 'Directory of Advanced Training Opportunities in the ACP Countries' (DTOACP). Initially, the Directory will list post-secondary courses in three sectors: Rural Development, Communications and Transport, and Human Resource Development (General Management and Trainer Development only). The first edition will be published before the end of 1996 in English, French and Portuguese. In addition, an expanded DTOACP database will be available on CD-Rom. Later editions of the Directory will update the information and widen the coverage.
Not all institutions offering post-secondary courses in the focal areas will appear in the Directory. To qualify for inclusion, both institutions and courses will have to meet a set of objective quality standards on aspects ranging from course organisation to student facilities and services. Thus, Directory users will get an overview of the courses available, but also the studying and living environment at the institutions. The Directory will thus add to the information on ACP training institutions available from existing sources. There will also be briefing packs on individual ACP countries featured in the Directory, giving students some general information about the country where they will be studying and practical tips on matters such as health and visa requirements.
In 1994, 550 ACP students received EDF scholarships. Of these, 139 were for studies in the applicant's home country, 156 for courses in other ACP states, and 255 for study in Europe. The students in Europe mostly took courses in Finance, Economics and Statistics, Applied Technology, Management, Agriculture, and Health Care. It is this group that is expected to benefit particularly from the DTOACP.
Because of higher living and education costs, training in Europe is more costly than equivalent training in the ACPs. Thus, by using the Directory's information effectively, bodies that give scholarships should be able to help more students despite shrinking budgets. The database should also be useful to ACP governments by adding to sources of information already available to them for planning purposes. Institutions that provide courses of the right quality, and are thus able to attract foreign students (ACP and non-ACP), should benefit financially as a result of inclusion in the Directory.
The project is being implemented by a consortium of three Dutch institutions, which were awarded the contract, after an international bidding process. These are:
- The Institute of Social Studies Advisory Service (ISSAS) in The Hague, part of one of Europe's foremost centres for development research and training. The Institute of Social Studies runs some 15 teaching programmes, ranging from short diploma courses to PhD programmes. ISSAS has wide experience of advisory and consultancy work in more than 60 developing countries.
- The Netherlands Organisation for Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC) in The Hague, which has a history of providing assistance for higher and professional training in the developing world. It has run more than 180 educational projects in 35 countries and also has experience in compiling training directories.
- The Development Research Institute (IVO) in Tilburg (affiliated to Tilburg University). It does development research and training, and is the European focal point for the International Development Information Network, set up by the OECD in 1976 to facilitate information exchanges on social science research and training as well as to foster regional and international cooperation.
The core project team comprises ACP and EU professionals. The project will also employ ACP nationals in their own countries and work at the regional level through suitable partner institutions.
Of course, some students may choose Europe because of a perception that the qualification gained will give them an edge in certain jobs. Bilateral programmes between individual EU and ACP governments will inevitably continue to cater partly to such students. Others may prefer a European course because their chosen institution is the best in a particular field. Obviously, DTOACP is not aimed at either of these categories. However, with the cooperation of ACP governments and institutions, it could make a difference to the others - those who seek quality education to enable them to help in their country's development and do not have a predisposition as to where they receive it. A.K.