Harvard University Opens Office in Tunisia
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at Harvard University today opened its first overseas office in Tunisia, home to a tradition of learning and research that extends from Antiquity to the present.
The office and the year-round programs run from the location are made possible by the support of Harvard College alumnus Hazem Ben-Gacem (AB ’92).
“The Middle East is a part of the world that you’ll never fully understand unless you get your feet on the ground and experience it first-hand,” said William Granara, CMES Director and Professor of Arabic.
“Thanks to Hazem’s generosity, Harvard students and scholars have greater resources to pursue in-depth field research and can more substantively engage in language and cultural immersion experiences.”
“From the beginning the hope has been to establish an outpost where Harvard faculty and students would come to discover Tunisia—its history, language, culture, art, and people—and integrate this experience into their scholarship and education,” said Ben-Gacem. “I’m very excited by this first step towards a substantial Harvard presence in Tunisia.”
Founded in 1954, CMES, through interdisciplinary teaching and research, has produced hundreds of graduates with Middle East and North Africa expertise who have gone on to directly impact students, scholars, and the public both in the United States and around the world.
Its Tunisia office will provide students and scholars with a bridge to renowned Tunisian archival facilities, serve as an incubator for analysis of the evolving social, cultural, legal, and political movements in the region, and offer an intellectual hub for scholars of, and from, Tunisia, the Maghreb, the Mediterranean, and the wider Middle East region.
“Broadening the contexts in which teaching and learning happen at Harvard is a crucial element of our engagement with the world. We are always seeking opportunities to make the University more intentionally global, and the field office in Tunisia will bring the world to Harvard and Harvard to the world in exciting new ways that will shape important work across fields and disciplines,” said Harvard president Drew Faust.
Programs available at the Tunis location for students and faculty from across the University include Harvard Tunisia Scholarships for Harvard graduate and undergraduate research, funding for Harvard faculty sabbatical research, an Arabic language summer program for Harvard graduate and undergraduate students, and a three-week Winter Session course for Harvard students.
Russia Gets $110m Yearly as Tuition from 22,000 African Students
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Russian President, Mr Vladimir Putin, has disclosed that the cooperation between Russia and Africa in education was “at a traditionally high level,” noting that about 27,000 African students are currently studying in the country, with 5,000 of them being sponsored by his government via scholarships.
He confirmed this development at the International Parliamentary Conference Russia–Africa in a Multipolar World held in Moscow under the auspices of the State Duma of the Russian Federal Assembly some days ago.
“This conference is undoubtedly important in the context of the continued development of Russia’s multifaceted cooperation with the countries of the African continent.
“We also consider this event a key part of the preparations for the upcoming second Russia-Africa summit scheduled to be held in St Petersburg in July,” he said.
“Cooperation between Russia and African countries in education is at a traditionally high level.
“Today, about 27,000 African students are studying in Russia, including 5,000 whose education is covered by the federal budget.
“At the same time, the annual quota for state-funded scholarships at Russian universities will be more than doubled,” he remarked.
In an interview with Kestér Kenn Klomegâh, Russia’s Ministry of Higher Education confirmed these figures, noting that the students pay an average of $5,000 as tuition per year.
It is believed that Russia targets these students to boost its image and public perceptions in Africa, as the growing contribution of Russian institutes and universities for training qualified personnel for African countries as part of the current relations is gaining momentum in the emerging new world.
This would, in practical terms, serve as a driver for diverse sectors in Africa. Understandably, Russian education could be an exportable service and/or unique product and has great market potential if strategically tapped, especially for Africa.
In various ways, Russian educational institutions could open their doors to the growing number of African elites, estimated at 350 million, almost the same size of the United States and double the population size of Russia. As part of the renewed interest in Africa, Russia has been working on opportunities and diverse ways to increase the number of students, especially tuition-paying agreements for children of the growing elite families and middle-class from African countries at Russian universities.
Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, was convinced that cultural and educational cooperation could be equally important areas that needed to be developed and intensified in Russian-African relations. That Russia could sustain noticeably close relations with African countries by promoting cooperation between ministries and departments and expanding scientific research, and engaging in exchanges.
Volodin further suggested to continue discussing issues of harmonizing legislation in the scientific and educational spheres and reminded hundreds of thousands of African students studying in the Soviet Union and Russia. “There is a rare need to develop Russian education export opportunities, take progressive measures to raise interest in Russian education among foreigners can achieve more in these areas, to know each other better and be more open to one another,” he stressed in his speech.
The system of higher education has always been and remains a powerful intellectual resource, generating new ideas and – this is what it was designed for, of course – to offer systematic training of labour for all areas of life in society. This serves as an investment into the achievement of the main target – training professionals that are in demand on the labour market.
Nevertheless, the Russian government is aware of the importance of international recognition of the Russian education system. Russian universities could inculcate diversified cultural tolerance, and take advantage of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism – aspects of modern life – which are necessary prerequisites for any success in the now globalized world.
Taking steps to strengthen the Russia-African multifaceted relations in the education and cultural sphere, Russia’s Ministry of Higher Education has already launched a large-scale educational campaign abroad targeting Africa. The program, which seeks to boost popularity and improve the position of Russian universities’ international ratings, will be implemented in 2025.
The federal government scholarships are highly limited; educational institutions are ready to enrol more private students on a tuition-paying basis from Africa. There are plans to boost the number of African students, but currently, approximately 80% (that is four-fifths) of the total African students are on private contracts in the Russian Federation.
“The present and the future of Russia-Africa relations is not about charity, it’s about co-development,” stated Evgeny Primakov, Head of the Russian Federal Agency for International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) and also a member of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum.
The Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum was created and worked under the Russian Foreign Ministry. It has, under its aegis, three coordination councils, namely business, public and scientific councils. Primakov heads the humanitarian council that deals with education and humanitarian questions for the Foreign Ministry.
While talking about initiatives, especially the sphere of education in the relationship between Russia and Africa, and that there are difficulties with air-tickets and financing scholarships allocation to be covered in the budget, Primakov explicitly underlined the changing state of affairs in education and added might be increased in future.
In an interview with this author, the representative of the Federal Migration Service, Alexander Tolstobrov, informed that his department has been supporting foreign students from different countries under the new legislative amendment and has since taken adequate measures to make the Russian higher education system more accessible for foreigners.
Now foreign students, by law, have the right to employment and can extend their visas at the request of the university without leaving Russia. These questions relating to student employment and especially simplifying the procedures of issuing educational visas for foreign students were earlier discussed by the State Duma deputies and with the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a widely circulated Russian daily newspaper, reported as far back in April 2011 a new law passed by both houses of parliament allows the employment of foreign experts as teachers at Russian universities. The law is an attempt to boost scientific, research and cultural exchanges and turn the country into a research hub and a centre of academic excellence. But still, in practice, school authorities are still hesitant to hire foreign teaching specialists.
Experts from the Center for Strategic Research have remarked that the percentage of Russian Universities on the world market is quite considerably low. Due to this, there’s a need to develop Russian education export opportunities. All these measures will lead to enhanced interest in Russian education among foreigners.
“We are setting some very difficult tasks for Russian universities and expect they will be improving their performance and competitiveness, getting rid of outdated and moribund approaches and be future-oriented. We can achieve a breakthrough and raise the international rating among the comity of world universities,” Putin argued during his speech, as far back in May 2019, at the Russian Rectors’ Association, a national public organization that unites more than 700 heads of higher education institutions, in Moscow.
According to the 2021 World Education Review, there are currently only five Russian universities rated among the top 100 best higher educational institutions around the world. These are the Moscow State University, Moscow State University of International Affairs, Plekhanov University of Finance and Economics, St Petersburg State University and Baumanskiy Polytechnical University.
Currently, U.S. and U.K. universities are the most highly rated and popular for foreign nationals, as also France and Germany. China’s Peking University took 25th place. Moscow State University, established by Mikhail Lomonosov, and St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University came in 23rd and 61st position, respectively, among the global university rating, according to World Education Rating Review.
Airtel Renovates 12 Blocks of 37 Classrooms in Gombe
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The 12 blocks of 37 classrooms of Government Day Primary, Pantami, Gombe State, have been renovated by Airtel Nigeria as part of its Adopt-A-School corporate social responsibility initiative.
The facility is the 7th adopted school of the leading telecommunications network and was commissioned on Friday, March 24, 2023, by the Emir of Gombe.
While handing over the project to the school leadership, the State Business Manager for Airtel Nigeria, Mr Moses Adejo, said 17 toilets were also revamped for the pupils and teachers.
“Airtel is committed to improving the education system in Nigeria, and we love to identify with basic school education where the nurturing starts. This is because we truly believe that children are the future of this country,” he said.
Also speaking, the Emir of Gombe, represented by Falakin Gombe, Mr Kabiru Tshon, applauded Airtel for the support towards education in Gombe, noting that he is a subscriber of Airtel Network.
“Thank you to Airtel Nigeria for this wonderful intervention which is the first of its kind in Gombe state. I am delighted to find out that Airtel can do so much to support education in our state. I am one of their subscribers, so I am pleased to say that my Airtel is making an impact in Gombe,” the monarch said.
According to the Head Teacher of Government Day Primary School, Mr Sani Abubakar, Airtel is the first to carry out such intervention in the school and the whole of Gombe state.
“This is the first historical event in our state in respect of intervention by any NGO or other organizations. Government Day Primary School is the biggest school in the whole of Gombe state, and Airtel did all it could to upgrade the classrooms and convert all the pit toilets into modern water cistern toilets. All the children now use a water cistern toilet, courtesy of Airtel.” he said.
Government Day Primary School is said to be the largest primary school in Gombe state, with a total population of 7,119 pupils registered under the school for basic education and 135 teachers who cater to their educational needs.
Since the inception of Airtel’s Adopt-A-School initiative, Airtel Nigeria has adopted dilapidated schools in rural areas and rehabilitated them for at least four years. This is in line with Airtel’s commitment to improving the standard of education in Nigeria, and since its inception, Airtel has remained committed to the development of these schools.
UNN Confers Doctorate Degree on Zenith Bank’s Ebenezer Onyeagwu
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The chief executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has added another feather to his highly colourful cap as he was conferred with a doctorate degree over the weekend by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
It was gathered that the respected and brilliant banker was conferred with a doctorate degree in Business Administration in recognition of his immense achievements as the head of the tier-1 Nigerian lender and his contributions to the growth of the financial services sector in Nigeria and across the African continent.
At the 50th convocation ceremony of the school on Saturday, March 25, 2023, the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Charles Igwe, congratulated Dr Ebenezer Onyeagwu for distinguishing himself in his career and for his service to humanity, which made him worthy to receive the prestigious Doctorate Degree from Nigeria’s first indigenous University.
In his acceptance speech, the banking executive expressed his gratitude to the institution for finding him a worthy recipient of the Doctorate Degree in Business Administration, considering the very rigorous process of selection of awardees by the school.
“For me to have been considered and to have passed through the meticulous selection process makes it the more dignifying because I have no connection with the university,” he said, noting that the award represents a validation of the outstanding corporate governance, ethical leadership, and overall outstanding performance that Zenith Bank is recording.
Dr Onyeagwu dedicated the award to the board and management of Zenith Bank, especially the founder and Chairman, Dr Jim Ovia, who he said has remained a mentor, a leader and a source of inspiration to everyone at the bank and beyond; the staff.
He praised him for being the shoulder and proverbial base of the pyramid upon which his achievements and success as CEO of the leading financial institution in Nigeria rest.
The Zenith Bank chief also commended Zenith Bank’s customers for their unflinching loyalty to the brand; and to his family for their unceasing love and support.
Presenting the citation of Dr Onyeagwu to the assemblage at the 50th convocation ceremony for the conferment of the degree, the orator of UNN, Dr Ikenna Onwuegbuna, noted that the banker is an alumnus of Auchi Polytechnic, the University of Oxford, England and Salford Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, United Kingdom, Delta State University, Abraka.
Also, he is an alumnus of Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School of Columbia University, and the Harvard Business School of Harvard University in the United States.
Dr Onyeagwu is a Fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the Institute of Credit Administrators (ICA) and Senior Associate Member, Risk Management Institute of Nigeria (RIMAN).
He is also the Chairman of the Body of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers, Nigeria and Chairman of Zenith Pensions Custodian Limited and Zenith Nominees Limited. He is also on the Board of Zenith Bank (UK) Limited, FMDQ Holdings Plc and Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF).
Dr Onyeagwu is a member of the International Monetary Conference (IMC), the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, member of the African Trade Gateway Advisory Council of the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and member of the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
He also served on the board of Zenith Bank Ghana Limited, Zenith General Insurance, Zenith Securities Limited, Zenith Assets Management Company, Zenith Medicare Limited, and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
His track record of excellence has also seen him win several individual awards, including being named Bank CEO of the Year (2019) by Champion Newspaper, Bank CEO of the Year (2020, 2021 & 2022) by BusinessDay Newspaper, CEO of the Year (2020 and 2021) – SERAS Awards, and CEO of the Year (2022) – Leadership Newspaper.
Other recipients of Doctorate Degrees at the 50th convocation ceremony were the former Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was conferred with the Doctor of Public Administration, and the Chairman of Hobark International Limited, Dr Obiora Fubara, who received the Doctor of Business Administration. A retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Mary Odili, was conferred with the Doctor of Law; however, her conferment was deferred to a later date because she was unavoidably absent at the ceremony.
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