Australia Awards are a key part of Australia’s development assistance to Africa. In January 2009, the Government announced a ten-fold increase in the Australia Awards in Africa, to provide 1,000 awards per year by 2012–13. In 2012, over 1000 awards were provided, comprising 339 long term and 674 short term awards.
The long-term awards include Masters level scholarships in subject areas that align with the aid program’s focus in Africa, including agriculture, health, mining governance and public policy. A highlight in 2012 has seen the first 17 Australian Leadership Awardees from Africa take up their Masters scholarships which include additional leadership components.
20 agricultural PhDs are also available to applicants from eligible countries.
The short-course awards include a suite of 17 short courses of up to three months duration in similar areas as the Masters. Each of these courses has an in-Africa delivery component. A positive outcome of increasing scholarships opportunities has been the building of institutional relationships between Australian and African organisations in delivering the short courses.
There are currently 5,000 alumni of Australian Government scholarships in Africa, with a growing number occupying senior positions in government, in key commercial sectors and regional organisations. The ongoing Australia Awards in Africa will continue to strengthen these enduring people-to-people links.
For the 2013 intake, up to 1,000 new awards will be offered in Africa comprising approximately 400 long term awards and 600 short term awards.
Profile: Selma Amwaama
Selma and Gido Malhovo from Mozambique, another Australia Awardee, at the University of Western Australia. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Australia Awardee Selma Amwaama works at the Swakopmund State Hospital in Namibia. She completed an Australian Development Scholarship with a Masters degree in Public Health (Nursing) at the University of Western Australia in 2011.
Selma has a passion for infant and maternal health and has worked both as a registered nurse and a midwife. In Australia, she studied health systems and economics, food and nutrition, leadership and management and, importantly, the principles of teaching and passing on her skills to others.
Since returning to Namibia, Selma was promoted into a nursing staff management role. Today she’s responsible for 86 nurses at the State Hospital in Swakopmund.
To Selma, the Australia Awards represent a ‘willingness to invest in the skills of Africans, which in the long run is a sustainable solution to the challenges that many developing countries face’.
Her qualifications have enhanced her capacity to assist Namibia’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals by helping to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
Profile: Georgina Mumba
Georgina with Peggy Mugala, another Zambian Australia Awardee, at their Pre-Departure Briefing in October 2011. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
People living with a disability who are eligible to receive an Australia Award are encouraged to apply. Australia Awards in Africa provide support measures to ensure that awardees with a disability are able to overcome any barriers to completing their studies.
Georgina Mumba is one such awardee. She was infected with the polio virus when she was 18 months that left her unable to walk.
'Disability is not something you plan for. It can happen to anybody at any time,’ said Georgina at her pre-departure briefing. 'What’s important is you should not let this hold you back.'
Georgina attended the University of Zambia as an undergraduate in 2003. After graduating, Georgina was employed as a statistician at the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources in Zambia where she heard about the Australian scholarships.
One of the reasons she was attracted to studying in Australia at the Masters level was the desire to experience a more wheelchair-friendly environment.
Reflecting on her time at the University of Zambia Georgina comments 'They had to put ramps everywhere I went, so I left quite a mark at the university ... but, unfortunately, to get to my classes and to the library was a big challenge because there was this big flight of stairs I had to fight with every time.' She remains grateful to the fellow students who helped her up and down the steps and around the campus in her wheelchair.
'I told myself, when I do my Masters degree, I definitely want to do it in a more developed country. I don’t have to push myself physically for that piece of paper. Yes, I need that paper, but I also need some dignity in my life. I’m just a human being like everybody else so I also need to be treated likewise,' she said.
Georgina is studying her Masters in Public Policy and Management at the University of Melbourne.
Profile: Hendro Jenuve de Julio Muchiguere
Hendro meeting the Australian High Commissioner to Mozambique, Ann Harrap. Photo: GRM International Pty Ltd
Hendro Jenuve de Julio Muchiguere from Mozambique is the first to confess that before undertaking a Masters degree in Australia his teaching methods left much to be desired. Hendro’s interaction with his students was very detached. 'I used to be a distant and authoritarian teacher', he admitted. 'Our relationship was only inside the classroom. None of the students used to talk to me outside the classroom. They were afraid of me.'
As the recipient of an Australian Development Scholarship, Hendro completed a Masters of Education at Newcastle University in 2009. Reflecting on his time in Australia, he describes it as a valuable personal development experience. In particular, Hendro appreciated the kindness and attitude of his Australian lecturers, who helped him realise that more effective teaching methods were not difficult to develop and maintain.
'I went to Australia, and I saw something really strange. Lecturers were familiar and friendly, even without knowing me very well. They were very helpful inside and outside the classroom. Because of that I had indeed very good results. I found that, if I could change my relationship with my students, things would become much better than before, for me and my students.'
Upon his return to teaching in Mozambique in 2010, Hendro applied the skills he had developed in Australia.
Hendro cites winning the 2011 'Best Teacher of the Year' award at the Academy of Police Sciences in Nampula (regional Mozambican centre) where he teaches as evidence that his changed attitude to teaching has been appreciated by both colleagues and students: 'I understood, finally, that a being a good teacher does not mean being superior, but being a helper, friend, educator and facilitator.'