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Cablegate: Niger: Gon Expands Higher Ed to Niger's Interior

VZCZCXRO8680
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1139/01 3391403
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041403Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4735
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 001139

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, AF/PDPA SLISENBY, AND DRL/AE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI SCUL EAGR EAID NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: GON EXPANDS HIGHER ED TO NIGER'S INTERIOR

1. SUMMARY: On October 28-30, 2008 the GON opened three new
University Institutes of Technology (IUTs) in the interior cities of
Zinder, Maradi, and Tahoua. This represents the largest expansion
of the national university system since 1985. According to GON
officials, the purpose of the IUTs is to expand higher education
opportunities for students outside of Niamey. IUTs currently offer
limited, targeted courses of study.

------------------------------------
History of Higher Education in Niger
------------------------------------

2. The Centre d'Enseignement Superieur (CES), established in Niamey
in 1971, was Niger's first public institution of higher education,
and was officially designated as the National University in 1973.
In 1985, the public higher education system underwent an expansion
with several existing post secondary and vocational institutions
being subsumed as schools within the university. In 1993, the
university was renamed Abdou Moumouni University (AMU), in honor of
professor and university rector Abdou Moumouni Dioffo, a famous
Nigerien educator, intellectual, and solar energy expert.

------------------------
Current State of Affairs
------------------------

3. Between 1990-2006, the reputation and quality of education at AMU
declined significantly, due in large part to over-enrollment,
underfunding, and debilitating student strikes, which led to the
cancellation of several academic years. Over the past two academic
years, the situation has improved with newly elected university
officials striving to improve faculty and student working
conditions, and standing firm in the face of unrealistic student
demands.

----------
Enrollment
----------

4. Student enrollments increased significantly between 1971-1973,
with Nigerien high school graduates no longer obligated to seek
opportunities elsewhere the sub-region to begin their university
studies. To date, there are approximately 10,000 students enrolled
at AMU.

-----------------------------
Governance and Administration
-----------------------------

5. The university rector is elected by the faculty, student
representatives, and administrative staff representatives for a
three-year renewable term. An elected vice-rector assists the
president in managing the university's affairs. Deans act as chairs
for the schools through a one-time renewable term of three years. In
the absence of vice-deans, department heads and their faculty assist
the deans in their duties. Heads of departments are elected by their
peers for a two-year once-renewable term.

------------------------
Research and Publication
------------------------

6. Research and publication are not well supported at UAM, although
research professors, in collaboration with outside partners, attempt
to establish working teams to conduct original research. Research
professor teams are active in the Agronomy School and the School of
Health Sciences. Until recently, the lack of an electronic
communication network through which research results could be
disseminated had been a daunting problem; however, AMU is taking
steps to modernize their communications infrastructure and
capability. They recently signed a contract to establish Internet
access, which is now available to most faculty members, and have
provided laptop computers to all university lecturers.


--------------
Privatization?
--------------

7. Privatization is not currently part of AMU's plan for improvement
and expansion. The university community has debated the possibility
of "non-public" means of funding, but without making specific
reference to privatization. A "reflection committee" has been
established to brainstorm on new ways to tap into non-public funding
sources on behalf of the university.

----------
IUT Launch
----------

8. On October 28, 2008, Minister of Secondary and Higher Education

NIAMEY 00001139 002 OF 002


Sidikou Oumarou presided over the official opening ceremony of the
University Institute of Technology (IUT)in Zinder. IUT Zinder will
initially offer two courses of study: regional planning and
administration. IUT Maradi opened the following day with academic
programs in electrical and civil engineering. Tahoua's IUT opened
on October 30 and will offer courses of study in banking and
finance, accounting, and business management. In the near future,
IUT Tahoua is considering adding courses on hotel management and
tourism. According to GON officials, the institutes were created as
an investment in human capital to create and empower a well-trained,
modern workforce with the skills necessary to improve and expand
economic development in Niger. In addition, the IUTs will provide
higher education opportunities for students outside of the capital.


ALLEN

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