North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Nigerian University grows in an uncertain location

A nice article from the Christian Science Monitor this week highlights an unlikely modern university in Nigeria. It is an American style university, owing its existence to a former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who in turn credits the Peace Corps for inspiring him to found the school.

Near the eastern border of Nigeria, the city of Yola is found along the Benue river, and is the site of the 7-year old University.

The American University of Nigeria (AUN), founded in 2005, hosts 1400 students, mainly young Nigerians, but increasingly Rwandans, Ugandans, and Cameroonians according to the article, all eager to pursue a liberal arts education. Like most American universities, undergraduate students study a diverse range of courses for two years, then focus on one field for their remaining two years.

A recent graduating class in front of one of AUN's buildings.

By Nigerian standards, the university is a hub for technology and infrastructure. AUN’s president, American Margee Ensign, says the campus is home to the largest building in northern Nigeria, and is the country’s only university with electricity around the clock. Students get laptops and have wireless, another unusual feature at a Nigerian university. “We’re an entirely eBook community, all on iPads,” Ensign says, “and we’re introducing that same technology to a very poor community. I would like to show the world that this technology can be used anywhere and can really allow people to leapfrog the challenges of poverty and illiteracy.”

Here, students work in a science lab

Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, does not have an unblemished record in his country, but this effort - to establish the AUN - is one to be remembered.

About American-style Universities

The AUN is the youngest American-style university abroad. There are five other older ones around the globe.

The American University of Beirut was founded when Andrew Johnson was US president in 1866.

The American University of Beirut, another situated in a volatile, conflicted region of the world.

The American University in Cairo was founded in 1919 by American Mission in Egypt, and sponsored by the United Presbyterian Church of North America.

The American University of Rome (AUR) has its origins emerging soon after WWII. A David Colin, an American journalist in Italy prior to and during the War, settled in Rome, and with an Italian counterpart, saw the school formally established in 1969.

The American University of the Caribbeans, was established in 1978 on the island of St. Maarten by an American educator.

The American University in Bulgaria AUB) was founded in 1991, shortly after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, a joint endeavor of the U.S. government and the government of the Republic of Bulgaria.

All offer an American-style liberal arts education, "easy to come by in the US, but not so in other parts of the world." There is no formal link Teatree is aware of, between these universities other than shared experience and common purpose arising from distinct and varied founding visions.

About the location in Nigeria

"Nigeria has 170 million people, the most populous country in Africa and 7th largest in the world. But Yola has fewer than 100,000 people, and is close to the home of the Boko Haram terrorist group. The campus is also home to a graduate program and a K-12 school – and, as the article points out, a small army ...

The 350-person security force, one-third of whom are women, are there to protect the 1,400 students and 90 or so faculty from Boko Haram, the Islamist group labeled as a terrorist group by the US government. Boko Haram’s rise is the result of complex ethnic, social, and political causes. In 2012, the group’s attacks have grown bolder, and the Nigerian government has had little success in thwarting the movement. The US State Department recently issued a travel ban that prevents its diplomats in Nigeria from visiting the north where the university is located.

Boko Haram’s existence, AUN President Ensign says, means her No. 1 goal is to keep students and faculty safe. Those students seem to have good prospects once they graduate – with an economic growth rate of about 7 percent, fueled by oil exports, Nigeria was the fifth fastest-growing economy in sub-Saharan African in 2011.

Campus security takes on real meaning in an area with latent conflict.


The last interesting fact about the AUN in the town of Yola, is that the university's emphasis on state of the art communications - the use of the internet and electronic documentation, data sharing, and "elearning" is that Google statistics show that 55 percent of their traffic in the whole country originates from this one small educational outpost.

In view of so many challenges around the world, this effort can be applauded.

1 comment:

Ben said...

This reminds me of Daystar University in Athi River, Kenya - a liberal arts college, co-founded by Americans, and with exchange programs with American colleges.