Indonesia sets sights on African students
Indonesia is seeking alliances with universities in East Africa, using its existing exchange programs as an entry point to the continent.
The world’s most populous muslim country is actively promoting “educational diplomacy” by establishing partnerships between its universities and their African equivalents and promoting opportunities such as the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Partnership for Developing Countries scholarships initiative.
Indonesian universities will hold joint collaboration programs including staff and student exchanges and joint research, which will also see teaching staff in Africa advance their studies in Indonesian universities.
“The Indonesian embassy in Nairobi has actively promoted educational diplomacy”
Scholarships will be issued to African students and lecturers to study at Indonesian universities as part of the Asian country’s plan to “expand and enhance” relations between Indonesia and Africa.
“So far, the Indonesian embassy in Nairobi has actively promoted educational diplomacy, including scholarships managed by Education Ministry under the Partnership for Developing Countries (KNB) scholarships as well as those offered independently by various universities Indonesia,” said Mohamad Hery Saripudin, Indonesian ambassador to the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The envoy, who recently led a delegation from his country into meetings with universities in the region, said that countries in East Africa were targeted with opportunities for studying in Indonesian universities within the framework of Sister University cooperation.
One of the universities visited by the delegation was Umma University, a university in Kenya that operates under Islamic values and practices.
While Indonesia also trails its neighbours including Singapore in attracting foreign students, calls for a more aggressive push for African students have been growing since 2015 when reportedly less than 1000 Africans were studying there.
Cultural shock, language barrier and the education system used in the country have been cited as some of the reasons why the Asian country is not a popular destination for Africans.