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Successful conference on higher education and research in developing countries

The Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund and The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights hosted a conference in Oslo, Norway, February 12-13, 2008 to focus on the importance of building institutions for higher education and research in developing countries. The opening address was deliverd by Jens Revold, State Secretary for the Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland. State Secretary for International Development Håkon Arald Gulbrandsen, The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave a speech titled "Towards a more knowledge based policy for  development. Prominent scolars, experts and policymakers from four continents participated in this conference. A summary and most of the presentations are now available on the web, see links in the column to the right. Concluding remarks by Sir John M. Ball.  

From a classroom in Bangalore, India. (Photo: Fredrik Naumann. (Samfoto)From a classroom in Bangalore, India. (Photo: Fredrik Naumann. (Samfoto)

The conference was made possible by a grant from the Norwegian government. Various projects designed to support academic institutions and research activities in developing countries will be presented. The activity of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and other international scientific organizations will be given special attention. Such scientific organizations have direct links to the developing regions through professional contacts and individual memberships. The support programs run by these organizations therefore often represent an alternative and a supplement to the support initiated more directly by governments or multi-government organizations like UNESCO.

The aim of the present conference was to illustrate why the creation of academic institutions and research groups is vital for further progress and growth in developing countries, and to evaluate the efficiency of different strategies for the support given by the developed world. In particular, focus will be given to the possibility of improving the efficiency of this support by increased cooperation between governments and international scientific organizations.

 

Conference Program

February 12:

12.00 Lunch

13.15 Opening address by Jens Revold, State Secretary for the Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland 

13.30 Director Jan Egeland, The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs:
"Building academic institutions - a prerequisite for development and welfare"

14.30 Coffee

15.00 - 17.00: Experiences from developing countries and a panel discussion:

During this session we will have shorter presentations from several active university professors and researchers from various regions of the world.

They will share with us their experiences in building academic institutions and research groups in their homeland, and they will describe some of the critical factors for further progress. Furthermore, they will discuss the importance of building academic institutions for the development in their region.

Hopefully, these presentations with lead to an interesting and fruitful discussion with the rest of the audience.

  • Professor Fatima Abu Salem, Lebanon 
    The American University of Beirut (AUB), 
  • Professor Thara Tritrakarn, Thailand
    Director of Bangkok Anesthsia Regional Training Center, BARTC

16.00  Break

  • Professor José A. de la Peña, Mexico
     President of the Mathematical Union of Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Dr. Chan Roath, Cambodia
    Director of Scientific Research Department, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and  President of Cambodian Mathematical Society

17.30 Professor Olabiyi B.J. YAI, Chairman of UNESCO's Executive Board

19.00 Dinner

February 13:

9.00 Professor Wandera Ogana, Department of Mathematics, University of Nairobi, Kenya: Promoting mathematics in Africa thorough the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative (AMMS)

9.30 Andreas Steigen og Eldad Banda, Uganda:
"South - North co-operation on research and capacity building at African universities - experiences from a co-operation project at Makerere University" 

10.00 Coffee

10.30 Anubha Verma, Science, Technology and Innovation Specialist, World Bank:
"Building Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Capacity in Developing Countries"

11.00 State Secretary for International Development Håkon Arald Gulbrandsen,
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Towards a more knowledge based policy for development

11.30 Director Gunn Mangerud, Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU):
South - South - North cooperation for strengthening higher education and research in developing countries - Norwegian initiatives.

12.00: K.R. Sreenivasan, Abdus Salam Research Professor and Director, ICTP:
"Building Scientific Capacity in Developing Countries: The Role of ICTP"
The speech will be delivered by Dag Harald Johannessen, Assistant Director, ICTP

12.30  Sir John M. Ball: Concluding remarks

13.00 Lunch

 

Lecturers

Dr. Fatima K. Abu Salem
Fatima K. Abu Salem is Assistant Professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB) where she divides her time between research and teaching.

More about Dr. Fatima K. Abu Salem

Sir John M. Ball
John Ball is Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Fellow of The Queen's College.

More about Sir John M. Ball

Wandera Ogana
Wandera Ogana is Professor of Applied Mathematics, Department of Mathematics, University of Nairobi, Kenya and Programme Director for African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative.

More about Wandera Ogana

Olabiyi B.J. Yai
Olabiyi B.J. Yai is a specialist in African languages, literature, alphabetization, oral poetry and the culture of African diasporas.

More about Olabiyi B.J. Yai

Dr. José A. de la Peña
José A. de la Peña is President of the Mathematical Union of Latin America and the Caribbean.

More about Dr. José A. de la Peña

Chan Roath
Dr. Chan Roath is Director of Scientific Research Department, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in Cambodia and President of Cambodian Mathematical Society.

More about Chan Roath

Anubha Verma
As a Science, Technology and Innovation Specialist at the World Bank, Ms. Verma has been working on STI capacity building programs in several African countries: Rwanda, Mauritius, Botswana. Trained as an engineer, she has the experience of working in the information technology sector in Bangalore India. She holds an MA from Georgetown University in Communications, Culture, and Technology program. She recently co-edited a book titled " Building Science, Technology, and Innovation Capacity in Rwanda: Developing Practical Solutions to Practical Problems."

Organizing committee

Members of the organizing committee: Ragnar Winther (chairman of the Abel Memorial Fund) and Ragni Piene from the University of Oslo, Einar Steensnæs and John Bjørnebye from the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, Ragnhild Tungesvik, Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU) and Knut Wester from the University of Bergen.

Press contacts

Anne-Marie Astad
Phone: + 47 22 12 10 92
Mobile: + 47 415 67 406
E-mail: anne.marie.astad@dnva.no

Line Torvik
Phone: + 47 23 13 66 74
Mobile: + 47 992 18 321
E-mail: line.torvik@oslocenter.no

Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi
Drammensveien 78
N-0271 Oslo
Telefon: +47 22 12 10 90
E-post: dnva@online.no
 
Nettredaktør: Anne-Marie Astad
Design og teknisk løsning: Ravn Webveveriet AS
 
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
Drammensveien 78
N-0271 Oslo, Norway
Telephone: + 47 22 12 10 90
E-mail: dnva@online.no
Web editor: Anne-Marie Astad
Design and technical solutions: Ravn Webveveriet AS