Access to scholarship and research funding may no longer be a far cry for Lecturers and Students of Federal University Otuoke with the recent launch of a "Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund" in Johannesburg, South Africa by African Governments and business leaders on June 18, 2015.
10,000 African scholarships are expected to be awarded within the span of ten (10) years and specific research and innovation in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology would be strengthened as the Fund’s cardinal objectives.
Doubtlessly this is a welcome development expected to ultimately enhance the quality of learning and broaden the intellectual space in FUO by virtue of the skills in applied sciences, engineering and technology that recipients would acquire from the programme in the short and long run.
The Fund launch was led by the President of the Republic of Senegal HE Macky Sall, and representatives of the Heads of States of Ethiopia and Rwanda, as a contributory fund to the World Bank ‘Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET)’ programme (http://www.worldbank.org/afr).
A partnership between African Governments and the organized private sector under the aegis of a new group of the ‘Africa Business Champions for Science’, chaired by the Angolan businessman Dr. Álvaro Sobrinho, also chairman of the Planet Earth Institute NGO (http://www.planetearthinstitute.org.uk), the Fund aims at raising a total of $5million at the launch, plus additional funds that are likely to accrue from the broader spectrum of African States, business leaders and other development partners and it is hoped that the Fund would be fully mainstreamed by June 2016 for easy access.
Championed by Ministers saddled with developing higher education and research from Senegal, Rwanda and Ethiopia which constitute PASET Steering Committee alongside business leaders, representatives from academia and the World Bank, acceleration of the creation of a skilled, high-quality workforce capable of powering Africa’s socio-economic transformation is PASET’s cardinal objective.
His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal explains this as a lofty ideal. According to him, Africa increasingly sees the need to depend on science and technology to increase industrial and agricultural productivity, guarantee food security, tackle diseases, ensure a safe water supply, and reduce the energy deficit. “While these may seem like insurmountable challenges, the continent cannot waste any more time,” he said.
The need for Africans to continue to recognize the importance of investing in ‘our future generations’ in the face of the great strides the continent has made so far, and that this investment must necessarily transcend ‘access and enrolment’ to develop excellence too especially in science and technology, was stressed by Dr. Álvaro Sobrinho, Chairman, African Business Champions for Science and Planet Earth Institute at the launch.