The original report was published in The Independent on Friday, July 1, 2011
Higher education is on the rise
The Government intends to create nationwide access to higher education by 2012
Angola’s government recognises the importance of educating its population, to prepare citizens to be happy and productive members of society. The country has a number of education programmes targeted at primary, secondary and higher institutions that are intended to provide Angolans with the skills they need to help contribute to economic growth.
At the end of the civil war in 2002, Angola’s academic infrastructure needed huge investment to extend even basic primary education to all the country’s children, and impressive progress has already been made in that direction.
In 2002, there were 1.7 million children enrolled in the country’s schools. By 2008 the figure had risen to 5.7 million, and today primary school coverage has reached 76 per cent. Over the 2002-2008 period, the number of classrooms rose by about 18 per cent each year, though more are still needed.
The education ministry has started implementing various successful programmes to reduce the rate of dropouts and keep kids studying, including free meals for 1.3 million students, and health care clinics at schools. The programmes will be extended to all the schools in the country through 2011. The ministry is also prioritising the improvement of the quality of the education system, including teacher training and better supervision and evaluation.
With the vast increase in the number of students now studying in primary and secondary schools, the government’s focus is turning towards preparing the country’s institutes of higher education for a coming wave of scholars. A recent education reform has divided Angola into seven different academic regions, with the goal of having at least one higher education facility in each of them by 2012. The reform will create new institutions, while at the same time restructuring Luanda’s Agostinho Neto University (UAN).
UAN is by far Angola’s biggest university, with more than 60,000 students at its main campus and its 17 branches spread around the country. In 2002 the university had a total of 9,000 students. The number of places available at the branches increased to 8,900 in 2009, from 7,000 in 2008.
The increase in places available at the branches and at the main campus still isn’t enough to meet demand, however. In Luanda in 2009, there were 11 applicants for each available space. To make room for more students, a new 5,000-acre campus, which will accommodate 40,000 students, is being built on the outskirts of the city.
The new campus will have a library measuring 8,500 square metres when finished, in addition to conference halls, research centres for advanced studies, and infrastructure, maintenance and operation areas. In terms of academics, the campus will house nine faculties, including arts, architecture, economics, law, medicine and oil. Chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer studies will be the first courses offered at the facility, which will cover 360,000 square metres when finished.
UAN is Angola’s biggest university, but there are several others as well, including some that have only opened recently, such as Catholic University, Independente University (UNIA), Lusiadas University, Jean Piaget University, and Angolan Methodist University.
Angola’s government recognises that the education system can benefit from help from abroad, and welcomes international co-operation. The British government recently announced a programme that will grant scholarships to 50 Angolan professionals, working in key sectors of the economy, for study in the UK. When finished, they’ll return to Angola to share their new knowledge and expertise with their countrymen. The British government has also contributed books and other teaching materials to Angolan academic institutions.
ANGOLA PROJECT TEAM:
Regional Director Saturnino Izquierdo, Project Director Gemma Gutierrez, Editorials Pablo Mazarrasa
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