30 January 2007
The University of South Africa (Unisa), the Pretoria-based university that offers distance education programmes to students across the country and the continent, opened a regional learning centre in Ethiopia on Sunday.
The centre – Unisa’s first outside South Africa – will serve as a university registration point, and offer Ethiopian students academic support services such as career guidance, orientation skills development and tutorial classes.
According to Unisa Vice-Chancellor Barney Pityana, the centre could eventually become the hub for all its programmes in the Horn of Africa and eastern Africa. “The centre might be used for future training for the southern Sudan region as a neighbouring state of Ethiopia,” he said.
Pityana added that as the institution was not a private provider seeking to make a profit, it would need financial support for students in Ethiopia.
“I have indicated to Education Minister Naledi Pandor that I shall seek the support of the council of the University of South Africa to provide a grant of R2-million financial support to needy students,” he said.
Pityana challenged embassies from donor countries in Addis Ababa to match or better the expected grant.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who attended Sunday’s launch, praised Unisa’s initiative, saying it would help address capacity problems in African countries such as Rwanda, Ghana and Kenya. “I think indeed that it’s a very important initiative [which addresses] the issue of capacity building, and we will continue to support this initiative,” Mbeki said.
Also present at the launch were Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Unisa Chancellor Judge Bernard Ngoepe, and Unisa council chairperson Mathews Phosa.
The launch took place ahead of the African Union’s 8th summit of heads of state and government, which kicked off on Monday with the topic of science, technology and innovation in Africa high on the agenda.
SouthAfrica.info reporter and BuaNews