Press Release

New Volume on African Higher Education Partnership Tells of Innovation and Change Across Campuses and National Boundaries

IIE’s Weaving Success Reveals the Impact of a Groundbreaking 10-Year Initiative

DOHA, November 2, 2011—A new book released today at the 3rd World Innovation Summit on Education in Doha by the Institute of International Education (IIE) recounts the impact of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA). The publication, Weaving Success: Voices of Change in African Higher Education, available for free as an e-book at, provides a detailed look at key issues in African higher education and highlights the transformative processes that are shaping the future of African colleges and universities. It includes stunning four-color photographs throughout, along with inspiring tales of success by African professors, university administrators, and students.

The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa was an unprecedented collaboration between seven major U.S. foundations to support African higher education institutions in building capacity and training the next generation of scholars, public servants and entrepreneurs. The ten-year, $440 million initiative was directly and indirectly responsible for improving conditions for over four million students at 379 African colleges and universities.

The initiative spanned a decade, from 2000-2010, and served nine African countries: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The PHEA foundations included: Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

Weaving Success details how PHEA’s support helped to catalyze social and economic development in African higher education. It looks at how African universities have incorporated new technologies to address their pedagogical challenges, and considers how a newfound focus on gender among institutional leaders has helped widen access to higher education for women and sparked cultural change on campuses. In addition, the book examines the exceptional steps that African universities have made over the past decade to produce high-level research, and apply their innovations in ways that benefit their respective societies.

The author of Weaving Success, Megan Lindow, spent over a year traveling to each of the nine countries that received PHEA support and speaking with people whose lives were impacted by this initiative. Lindow expertly weaves together these diverse voices to tell a holistic story of systemic change across campuses and national boundaries. Vivid textboxes complement Lindow’s narrative and share personal triumphs from the perspective of individual stakeholders: a professor of chemistry in Ghana who utilized new technologies to upgrade his institution’s facilities; a budding lawyer who broke free of her society’s traditional gender roles and became the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

In his Foreword to the book, Njabulo S. Ndebele, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Cape Town, writes: “[Weaving Success] tells a story of innovation based on the persistent efforts of a new generation of researchers in African universities. They are resourceful, focused in their persistence, and seek continuous improvement from their initial successes. Leaders of higher education in Africa will be fascinated by homegrown stories of success in conditions of change that can lead only to more success.”

In order to ensure that the book reaches a large audience both in the United States and Africa, Weaving Success will be available as a free download on a variety of electronic platforms, including the Kindle, Nook, and BlackBerry, and as a Flipbook and an app for all Apple devices. It is also copyrighted under the Creative Commons License, which will give scholars and students the ability to share and disseminate relevant sections.

About the Author

The award-winning author Megan Lindow was commissioned by the Partnership to create this historic narrative for PHEA. Lindow has served as Africa Correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education since 2005, and has contributed to publications including San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and Newsweek.

Partnership for Higher Education in Africa

Launched in 2000 under the leadership of four foundation presidents—Susan Berresford (Ford Foundation), Gordon Conway (Rockefeller Foundation), Jonathan Fanton (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation), and Vartan Gregorian (Carnegie Corporation of New York)—the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) grew to encompass three additional foundations: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation. The Partnership was a response to trends towards improved governance, public policy reform, and the increasing participation of civil society organizations in a growing number of African countries. Foundations sought to support the priority given to education in general and especially the indispensable contribution of higher education to social and economic development. PHEA represented both a belief in the importance and viability of higher education in Africa and a mechanism to provide meaningful assistance to its revitalization.

Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has network of 18 offices worldwide and over 1,100 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals, and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. IIE publishes books on international education trends, higher education policy issues, and student mobility statistics. IIE has worked extensively in Africa, implementing a range of programs to build leadership capacity and expand access to higher education in the region. In addition, IIE provided support to the PHEA with convenings, consultancies, and the preparation of publications commemorating the ten years of grant-making. 


Weaving Success: Voices of Change in African Higher Education

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Planting Seeds introduces key issues in African higher education that grantees have sought to address with support from the Partnership;

Chapter 2: Setting the Context sketches a quick background of each country, its higher education system, and the principal universities that feature in this narrative;

Chapter 3: The Invisible Thread deals with the Partnership’s initial core areas of focus: support for higher education research and advocacy and ICT;

Chapter 4: Innovations in Learning looks at how universities have used new technologies and ideas to address their pedagogical challenges;

Chapter 5: From Basic Needs to Broader Impacts shows various ways in which institutional reforms have strengthened universities to meet their basic needs and focus on larger issues;

Chapter 6: Journey to Academic Freedom examines how universities are navigating their relationships to society and the state, often in the midst of profound social and political change;

Chapter 7: Crossing Boundaries, Building Bridges, Opening Doors details how a focus on gender has helped widen access to higher education and sparked cultural change on campuses;

Chapter 8: New Life Blood looks at universities’ efforts to cultivate a new generation of academics, a pivotal task for ensuring the future health of African higher education;

Chapter 9: Developing Research explores how universities have surmounted obstacles to producing high-level research despite resource constraints;

Chapter 10: Dirty Hands, Fine Minds chronicles the efforts of academics to apply their innovations in ways that benefit society as well as the academy;

Chapter 11: Networking a Continent examines how the rise of networks for advanced training and research is helping universities to meet their challenges; and

Chapter 12: Shaking the Money Tree ties it all together by looking at how universities are uncovering ways to sustain their achievements by developing new funding sources.

Higher education institutions highlighted in the book

Egypt: American University in Cairo; Cairo University 

Ghana: University of Education, Winneba; University of Ghana

Kenya: Kenyatta University; Higher Education Loans Board

Madagascar: University of Antananarivo; Universite De Toliara Institut Halieutuque Et Des Sciences Marines

Mozambique: Catholic University of Mozambique; Eduardo Mondlane University

Nigeria: University of Ibadan; Bayero University

South Africa: University of the Witwatersrand; University of Cape Town; University of KwaZulu-Natal

Tanzania: University of Dar es Salaam; Tanzania Commission for Universities

Uganda: Makerere University; National Council for Higher Education