The 2012/05/18 at 14:12
Alexandre T. Analis
One year after the signing of a launch agreement in Burkina Faso for a preparatory class for young African female high-school graduates from the scientific stream, the EPF, a French engineering school (formerly the École Polytechnique Féminine) and 2iE, a Burkina Faso engineering school, officially presented, on 30 March, their "Ingénieures en Afrique" (Female Engineers in Africa) programme. This project foresees the recruitment of 30 girls applying from sub-Saharan Africa for the school year commencing in September. The project's development is to reach an average yearly flow of 40 to 50 pupils, around two-thirds of whom will be girls. After two years in preparatory school, the students have the chance to join an engineering programme or a third-year university bachelor programme.
In order to finance this programme whose initial investment comprises 100,000 euros in pedagogical equipment, the two schools are launching an appeal for contributions and donations from major international institutions and businesses as financial partners. Support for the project may be made in the form of capital donations or yearly scholarships allotted to students during a minimum period of two years, thus contributing to the training of elite female talent required by Africa and businesses for the continent's growth. Stakes are high: despite the excellent high-school results of African girls, few go on to engineering school or university. Apart from family and social traditions, cost is one of the obstacles to their continuation of studies.
A number of large French companies have already shown their interest in this project, whose godmother is Rachida Dati, Mayor of the 7th arrondissement in Paris and a European deputy. "Ingénieures en Afrique" also benefits from the support of Agence Universitaire Francophone (AUF or Francophone University Agency), representing 781 establishments from 94 countries. The EFP and 2iE are both members of the Conférence des Grandes Écoles and issue diplomas accredited by the Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur (CTI, the body that oversees engineering titles in France). The EPF is a generalist engineering school that currently has 1,250 students, 40 % of whom are girls, enrolled in campuses at Sceaux, Troyes and Montpellier. 2iE is based in Ouagadougou, and specialises in water and environmental engineering; last year, it received almost 1,700 students (25 % of whom were girls) from 27 different nationalities.