In a significant move aimed at expanding opportunities in tertiary education and harnessing the potential of nuclear science for socio-economic development, Vice-chancellors from 27 African universities have come together to establish postgraduate academic programs in nuclear science and technology.
This historic decision was reached during the annual Regional Meeting held in August in South Africa. The gathering was dedicated to charting a transformative path in nuclear science and technology education across the continent, resulting in a comprehensive roadmap for the creation of postgraduate academic programs in nuclear science and technology within accredited African universities.
The ambitious initiative seeks to enhance collaboration between institutions, providing greater access to tertiary education and unlocking the vast potential of nuclear science and technology for socio-economic progress. Zizamele Mbambo, Deputy Director General of the Department of Mineral Resources, stressed the importance of education and training in nuclear science, stating, "Education and training in nuclear science is crucial to enabling Africa to maximize the full potential of nuclear technology for its development."
During the meeting, participants, which included representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), conducted a thorough assessment of existing postgraduate programs in nuclear science and technology at the country level. Key priorities that emerged from these discussions included curriculum development in areas such as agriculture and radiopharmacy.
Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Department’s Division for Africa, emphasized the significance of this initiative, pointing out that the shortage of qualified professionals has been a significant barrier to harnessing nuclear science's potential for development in many African nations.
Crucially, the meeting resulted in key recommendations, including the dissemination of information about open applications for postgraduate programs and collaboration with the IAEA for curriculum development. The IAEA will provide Vice Chancellors with examples of accredited curricula and support proposals for new curricula through international expert review.
This landmark meeting builds on the IAEA's efforts since 2018 to bring Vice Chancellors from African universities together. These initiatives aim to foster market- and research-oriented academic curricula and training programs, addressing the pressing need for human resource development on the continent.
The 2023 meeting reached its culmination with a visit to South Africa’s North-West University, further solidifying the commitment to enhancing academic programs. As Africa takes a monumental stride towards harnessing the power of nuclear science and technology, the continent is poised for a promising future of innovation and development.
Article by Nyokabi Wanjiku