Objective of the Project
Sub-Sahara African universities have been under-funded for several decades. Consequently, most of them lack skilled human resource to continue the training of trainers and to conduct research.
The available statistics of some sub-Sahara African universities, on staffing levels, show that in certain universities, the staff at post in relation to the approved establishments is very low.
Most of the staff of sub-Saharan Universities (Example: Zambia, Namibia and Malawi) are only master’s degree holders but they are teaching courses at master’s level. The staffing situation will continue to be bad for the foreseeable future, a situation which has resulted in teaching a narrow range of courses. The courses in mathematics that would be useful in addressing some of Africa’s problems are not being taught
As a consequence of poor staffing, the level of research output has been very low. Lack of skilled researchers has meant that Africans are spectators in finding solutions to their own problems. So, we envisage a collaborative research program with institutions in the region that will include a strong training component of students from the region at MSc and PhD levels in the areas of Pure and Applied Mathematics.
The mathematical research and training areas required to implement our program are stochastic analysis, stochastic differential equations, analysis, measure theory, algebraic topology, algebraic geometry, differential geometry, delay differential equations (both deterministic and stochastic), functional analysis, and probability theory.
The Masters program would be run in four semesters, the first two being composed of taught courses only. In the second two semesters, students will do research projects that apply the principles learnt in the courses and also introduce them to different areas of Mathematical research. The PhD program would be run in four years.
1. Program Outline for Training
There are existing MSC and PhD programs at a number of institutions in sub-Sahara Africa but each program is undersubscribed in terms of number of students and number of qualified teachers to teach a wide range of courses in pure and applied mathematics. We will adopt two strategies as follows:
Strategy 1: To train students locally at institutions possessing a graduate program where the tuition fees are low. Through the Simons Foundation grant, we will be able to increase the number of students enrolling for the program. This strategy will have more impact on the number of students trained at the end of the grant period.
Strategy 2: To complement the graduate program at the University of Botswana by bringing all the students to Botswana. This strategy has the advantage that the University of Botswana is better funded and has more facilities than the other universities. Because the tuition fees at the University of Botswana are higher than the other institutions, this strategy might result in fewer graduates at the end of the training and research period. We intend to pursue both strategies.
For each strategy, we will allow for co-supervision of students. Each student will have a supervisor at the local institution and a co-supervisor at another institution.
The network will attract students from sub-Sahara African countries. Graduates from the program will be employed by institutions of higher learning and research institutions in the mathematical sciences.
2. Long Term Goals
The project will provide a platform for experienced teachers and researchers in the region to coordinate their efforts in training and research in Pure and Applied Mathematics. The MSC degree program will prepare students for PhD research in Pure Mathematics, Bio-mathematics, Insurance Mathematics, Financial Mathematics, Mathematical Statistics, Mathematical and Epidemiological Modeling. It is envisaged that by the end of 5 years, the program we will have added at least 8 MSC and 8 PhD graduates. We expect the project to publish at least thirty five (35) journal articles and at least sixty (60) conference/seminar papers during the project period.
We expect to share the knowledge and skills learned from the project by influencing the curriculum at undergraduate level so that the candidates with the right mathematical skills are generated to compete for the few scholarships available and to influence policy of the ministries of health, environment and education so that the public is better informed about the diseases and the environment.
3. Benefits to Africa
The project will significantly cut training costs for the Sub-Saharan Governments and reduce the brain drain as a good proportion of African students who train abroad choose not to return to their countries. Pooling of resources will ensure a program at any of the participating institutions with a full staff complement to teach and research and ensure adequate resources to support teaching and research. The program will stimulate completion for places and hopefully raise standards of our graduates. The research is expected to yield policy recommendations that will assist our planners in health, agriculture and finance.