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ACS Emerging Scholars Initiative online and on the go
Author: Brent Abrahams; Coordinator: Emerging Scholars’ Initiative
Published: 28/04/2021

​​​Launched in 2020, the Africa Centre for Scholarship (ACS) Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI) is a collaborative project that will see several multidisciplinary joint schools hosted with Stellenbosch University's partners from across the African continent.

As a natural extension of the activities first initiated by the Stellenbosch-based African Doctoral Academy (ADA) in 2009, SU International's Africa Centre for Scholarship (ACS) piloted the Joint Schools in Africa programme with a focus on emerging African scholars in 2018. The programme aims to provide affordable, high-quality, competency-based on-site learning at African partner institutions to enable and enhance scholarship development and career training. This, in turn, supports the ACS's objective of contributing to the development of the continent and its people by connecting new and emerging scholars globally and creating opportunities for research and the development of higher education teaching and learning.

Now, these goals will be further bolstered by the ACS's new Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI), which was launched in 2020. Building on the joint schools piloted in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda as well as the partnership with the Periperi U school in Tanzania in 2018, this collaborative project seeks to host 12 joint schools at partner institutions in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia in the next three years . Six of the partner universities are also members of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).

The ESI will be focusing on two streams – one for PhD students and another for staff members identified as emerging scholars by their own institutions. Courses address research methodology, supervision, academic writing and publishing, as well as generic skills, depending on individual institutions' needs and priorities. The programmes are co-designed by SU facilitators and facilitators from the partner/host institution.

In this way, the ESI hopes to enhance scholarship among emerging academics on the continent, create opportunities for collaboration within Africa, present teaching opportunities for SU staff, as well as build and strengthen SU's partnerships in Africa to increase mobility between partners. In addition, SU students will be exposed to new environments on the continent, which will build their global citizenship, cross-cultural competence, and potential for future collaboration.

Of course, the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic compromised the ESI's ability to kick-start its joint schools as planned. Fortunately, however, by drawing on the experiences of the Joint Schools in Africa programme and the flagship ADA, the ESI has managed to transition to a fully online teaching environment. Three virtual joint schools, with Strathmore University (Kenya), the University of Lagos (Nigeria) and the University of Rwanda respectively, are scheduled to take place in the first semester of 2021.