Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014: The Year of Methodist Higher Education in Africa?

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Assistant Professor of Religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College.

While the news stories about Africa that (unfairly) get the most play in the US tend to be negative stories about war or disaster, there's been a lot of good news coming out of the continent recently too.  Sub-Saharan Africa is poised to be a world-leader in the rate of economic growth, technology is booming, and there is even good news from the fight against AIDS.  One of the under-reported positive stories from the continent is the growth of higher education, and Methodist-affiliated institutions are an important part of that story.  Yet stories about Methodist higher education in Africa may be getting more attention in 2014.

Centenary College of Louisiana, a UM-affiliated school, began that trend last fall, with a fantastic six-page article in its college magazine about African higher education in general and United-Methodist colleges such as Africa University and Kamina Methodist University in particular.  It's a well-informed article and well worth a read.  You can read more about UM colleges and universities in Africa from a previous post on this blog as well.

United Methodist-affiliated theological education has been in the news as well.  This blog has previously shared stories about UM theological education in Africa, including the use of e-readers at Gbarnga School of Theology.  Blogger and UMC worker Julu Swen wrote a piece just a week and a half ago providing additional information about changes and new projects underway at Gbarnga.  Africa University has released a book series on theology by African theologians, which should be a good new resource for theological education this year.  Moreover, the Central Conference Theological Education Grants that will be awarded this year (the application deadline is January 30) will likely lead to more new initiatives in African theological education this year.

Finally, if anyone is in doubt of the potential impact of Methodist higher education in Africa, she or he need only to look back to one of the biggest stories of the end of 2013: the passing of Nelson Mandela.  Mandela was raised in Methodist schools, which gave him the skills and confidence necessary for his life's work.  As we look forward to 2014 as a year of Methodist higher education in Africa, let us pray with expectation to see the additional leaders that education will rise up, for the continent and for the world.


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