MacArthur is awarding new grants totaling $7.1 million to expand academic and research programs and strengthen staff development at two Nigerian universities as part of the Foundation’s efforts to improve higher education in Africa.

“MacArthur's support of Nigerian higher education is based on the belief that robust universities and intellectual freedom are essential to developing and sustaining healthy, economically vibrant, demo­cratic societies,” said Foundation President Jonathan Fanton. “An investment in universities is an investment in the social capital of the country.”

A $4 million grant will enable the University of Ibadan to expand access to higher education by increasing enrollment in its accredited distance learning program from 7000 to 25,000 students by 2010. In addition, the University will use the grant to equip its Central Research Laboratory, continue efforts to improve staff training, and increase research collaboration with other universities around the world. Their goal is to train 2,100 staff members, including faculty, administrative and technical workers, over the next three years. To strengthen research and learning, the University will also invest in information technology infrastructure and advance library automation. To date, MacArthur has provided more than $12.6 million in grants to the University of Ibadan.

A $3.1 million grant to Bayero University will help establish new departments of nursing and dentistry and strengthen the staff development program, allowing staff in critical fields including science, medicine, and agriculture to obtain doctoral degrees. The dentistry program will help address the national shortage of dental surgeons, while the nursing program will assist in meeting recent government standards that require all nurses to have bachelor’s degrees. Since 2000, MacArthur has provided nearly $8.6 million in grants to Bayero University.

The University of Ibadan is the oldest university in Nigeria, and Bayero University has the highest percentage of accredited programs of any university in the nation. Both universities are part of MacArthur’s Africa Higher Education Initiative, which also includes Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Port Harcourt. The initiative helps to strengthen the core human and operational infrastructures of the universities in areas such as information technology, administrative operations, and faculty development, and to expand libraries and obtain up-to-date scientific equipment. MacArthur’s goal is to improve the quality of teaching, research, and community service work of universities.

MacArthur has been making grants in Nigeria since 1989 and opened an office there in 1994. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $91 million in grants in Nigeria. In addition to grantmaking for higher education, MacArthur supports population and reproductive health, as well as human rights. MacArthur also participates in the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, a coalition of seven U.S.-based foundations that works with nearly 50 universities in ten countries in Africa to support their reform and revitalization efforts.

Education, Nigeria