Italy is reaching out to build partnerships with African universities through the recently established Italian Higher Education with Africa Foundation (IHEAF). The foundation is constituted by the union of six prestigious Italian universities namely, the University of Bologna, the Polytechnic of Milan, the University of Florence, the University of Naples Federico II, the University of Padua and La Sapienza University of Rome.
The IHEA Foundation project aims to strengthen the international collaboration between universities and contribute to the implementation of a multidisciplinary university program, specifically adapted to the African continent.
The group of African universities involved in the initiative includes the Catholic University of Cameroon, Strathmore University and Technical University of Mombasa in Kenya, the Somali National University, the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology and the St. Francis University College of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania, and Mekelle University in Ethiopia.
Professor Eugenio Gaudio, president of IHEAF, noted that African universities will benefit from a closer tie with the six leading Italian universities, promoting courses in areas of health, engineering, agri-foods, cultural heritage and sustainable tourism. According to him, African universities will not deal with individual Italian universities, but rather with a highly qualified network.
One of the Foundation's short-term objectives is to support the resilience of African educational systems, starting with a strategic action based on the three pillars of: a virtual mobility program, the design of dedicated Bachelor Degrees and Specializing Masters aimed at forming a new generation of qualified researchers and teachers. The virtual mobility program will be starting from the first semester of the Academic Year 2020/21.
Italy benefits from the Foundation, as well as partnerships with African universities, in a way similar to other international powers such as the USA, China, India, Japan, France, Turkey and Russia which promote African higher education development and youth empowerment and at the same time use it as a source of a nation’s soft power aimed at building cooperation and regional alliances to serve the country’s cultural and economic agendas.
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Article by Jedidah Mwangi