Student Engagement activities build Life Skills.
In Niger, higher education is modeled after the French system; the former French colony inherited this education system at all levels. However, there is one university in the country that is changing the landscape by challenging the established education model.
A Liberal Arts Education and its framework is a novelty in Niger; however, African Development University (A.D.U.) is attempting to change that. Roughly three years ago, A.D.U. opened its doors and started implementing a new type of education for Nigériens. The three-year program is a combination of various parts of traditional liberal arts majors needed in the industry.
The education programs are a shift in mindset. Certainly, the change in focus will require a shift in a younger portion of the population. However, this change is a game-changer for the country and the region. The academics are grounded in a business management and leadership foundational core. The university has chosen a liberal arts framework that is building 21st-century leaders in line with the UN SDG 4.0 and specifically SDG4.3 for higher education. The change in educational philosophy is both inside the classroom and outside. There is a strong emphasis on experiential learning and the values it instills in young leaders.
At A.D.U., the Office of Student and Community Affairs strives to engage students outside the classroom in dynamic ways through workshops, guest speakers, student organization activities, service to the community, and by building intercultural understanding. Students learn and practice essential life skills such as networking, teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, creative problem solving, questioning, reasoning, and other skills not often present in their French-system counterparts in Niger. These skills and their applications are vital to the future of Niger and the region.
Niger, like so many other countries worldwide, has been hobbled with educational institutions’ closure in 2020. this year. As other schools struggled to regain their footing, A.D.U. re-opened in January 2021 with an innovative, blended learning, model of teaching that is a mixture of face-to-face classes and asynchronous classes.
Having done so, the university also re-engaged in student programming. It embraced vibrant and interactive campus experiences by adding guest speakers who addressed topics such as mentorship, student leadership, and change/transition in education as a result of COVID. In a proactive way, student engagement has increased on A.D.U.’s campus in the form of small events to