On the African Leadership University website is a very bold claim to transform tertiary education in the world. The About Us page reads, “ALU is pioneering a fresh approach to higher education in the 21st century; offering accredited undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education programs in a unique and imaginative way. By integrating students’ learning with the real world, empowering students to take ownership of their own learning, equipping each student to think entrepreneurially, and employing the most engaging and inspiring teaching methods, ALU is pioneering a new take on higher education and leadership development. With a visionary in Ghanaian educationist Fred Swaniker as founder and the legendary Graca Machel as University Chancellor, the claim soon becomes more than just another catch line by an ordinary university. This is a special institution and Africa has started to feel its impact already. This year, ALU stretched its reach to Rwanda but this will not be the last stop. There is more work to be done in other countries.
ALU in Kigali
Rwanda was already the home of the ALU School of Business but in May 2017, undergraduates will make their way to one of the most beautiful cities in Africa. The university is heading to Rwanda owing to the country’s forward thinking approach to education as attested by its own mission to “facilitate a culture which supports the production of scholarship, research, innovation and knowledge transfer to meet the social and economic needs of the country”. According to ALU, the success of the first undergraduate campus in Mauritius and the School of Business in Kigali “have set the tone for the undergraduate offering”. The campus will be located in Kigali Heights and will welcome 200 students in 2017 while even more students will join in September 2017. However, a permanent campus will be built in Rwanda’s Innovation City. The current campus will not offer accommodation and students will have to secure their own room and board off campus. The University has flexible financial plans and it says, “We set our fees to make education affordable. Every applicant is eligible to apply for financial assistance which is assessed based on your need. The cost of tuition at ALU Rwanda is $4,000”
A Revolution in Motion
Fred Swaniker, the man behind the Africa Leadership University is a man with a vision. His ambition is to have trained three million African leaders by 2066 via a network of 25 campuses with at least 10,000 students in each campus. Speaking to Mail and Guardian, the man said, the goal of the initiative is not to necessarily address Africa’s education challenges but for him, “the end is to create a generation of leaders who are going to transform Africa-so we are about the transformation of Africa and education simply is the vehicle for achieving that to help address Africa’s great challenges.” His view is that continuing with the status quo will not address Africa’s problems and designing an educational system that tackles the issues the continent is grappling with is the starting point. Graca Machel, the university’s chancellor also says, “ALU takes tested knowledge which has been consolidated elsewhere but with a completely different approach grounded in aspirations of Africans, for Africans, breaking new ground with its vision to help build new approaches.” A new definition of what it means to be a pan-African is being coined by ALU.
With more campuses to come, all building up to the magical three million leaders nurtured by the university, ALU has a bright future and indeed, Africa too. The solutions to problems the continent is facing are beginning to be developed within Africa itself which is a major leap towards prosperity. Swaniker’s initiative is to be lauded and taken as a model for developing effective answers to the continent’s issues. Now it is Kigali, but many more campuses are coming. A new breed of leaders is rising and with it, a new world order with Africa at the top.