Buoyed by the successful progress reported by the four institutes of the Pan African University (PAU), established barely three years ago, officials at the Addis Ababa based University have announced new approaches to strengthen the institutes’ visibility among its stakeholders as well as tackle glaring gender parity, particularly in students’ enrolment that is currently in favour of male.
To guide the continental University in this line of thought, plans are in high gear to unveil two policy guidelines to spearhead the institution’s communications and gender regimes. The two items were the agenda of the four-day workshops that were held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union, from Tuesday, December 8, 2015.
During the forum attended by representatives from the PAU host institutions, communications practitioners and embassy officials from a section of African countries, the draft communications policy was validated, paving the way for its formal launch and implementation.
Presenting the draft communications strategy, Mr. Adiatou Fatty, the Pan African University Communications Officer, emphasized the fact that the document was broadly anchored on the African Union’s value of knowledge and information sharing, which he said, would be achieved through the appropriate application and utilization of communication.
The new policy framework according to Mr. Fatty will be instrumental in projecting the University’s much required international interest, which he hoped, would be useful in attracting some of the best minds, mainly students and faculty to the institution.
Welcoming participants, Kassa Belay, Interim Deputy Rector of PAU, used the occasion to present milestones made by the Institution launched in 2011 as a flagship initiative of the African Union, citing the PAU Institute of Basic Sciences, Innovation and Technology (PAUSTI), the first institute, launched in 2012 at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. PAUSTI graduated the pioneer batch of 54 candidates with Master of Science degrees in November 2014. This was followed a year later by University of Ibadan PAU based Institute of Life and Earth Sciences, that he said in November 2015, released 20 successful candidates at Masters level to the job market.
Prof. Belay said, two of the remaining PAU institutes for Central and North Africa regions located at the Universities of Yaoundé, and Tlecen, in Cameroon and Algeria respectively, were on track with their inaugural students now putting final touches on their research projects. Belay reported that a high level of African Union Commission delegation visited South Africa, early March, and commenced plans to operationalize PAU, Space Science Institute.
Meanwhile, PAU has vowed to be at the forefront in promoting and mainstreaming gender equity in all its spheres of operations. The workshop on gender came up with wide range of recommendations to be implemented by the institutes from next year to narrow gender gaps that continue to hamper the full development of women and in some instances men. Among the recommendations is the establishment of a fully fledged gender desk with full time staff at all PAU institutes responsible for implementing the diverse commitments related to gender equality and empowerment of women.
Perhaps the low female enrolment in PAU institutes may have been one of the compelling reasons for the development of gender policy. Claudia von Braunmul, a German Academic, presented a paper showing the low female enrolment level virtually in every institute. Prof Braunmul however noted the situation was on an upward trend citing JKUAT had 13.8 percent women students in the 2012/13 Academic year that rose to 28.9 percent the following year, while the University of Yaoundé recorded 27.4 percent women student enrolment during 2014/15 academic year, a figure that rose to 37.72 in the current year.
At the University of Ibadan, female student enrolment stood at 9.5 percent during the 2013/ 14 academic year, rising to 30 percent in the 2014/15 year, while the situation in Algeria was impressive with 43.7 percent women enrolment during the 2014/15 year.