6 March 2014

Africa: Mapping PhD Enrolment in Africa

The map shows enrolment in selected nations. Click on countries to show figures (missing for some years). Use the visible layers tab to toggle between years.

As part of our new series on PhDs and development in Sub-Saharan Africa, SciDev.Net is collating data over a range of issues - from postgraduate enrolment and gender equality to the links between PhDs and economic growth. We aim to gather and visualise the statistics underpinning stories about doctoral investment and growth on the continent.

In the first of our infographics we show how many people were enrolled to do PhDs in different African - and other - countries as a proportion of their overall population in the years 1999, 2005 and 2011.

The goal is to provide a historic view of PhD enrolment on the continent, allowing data to be compared for different countries at different points in time.

In putting together this interactive map, our initial aim was to gather data on PhD enrolment and graduation for each African country over 15 years.

But we quickly discovered a major obstacle: the data are often unavailable. On contacting organisations across Africa and the wider world, our requests for data were met with similar responses, ranging from "we have some data but most is missing" to "we would love that data but unfortunately no one has gathered it". It became apparent that, in this case, the story was often about the dearth of data rather than the data sets themselves.

Eventually, the UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Institute for Statistics got in touch to say that it had data for PhD numbers in some countries, but that most was missing.

Furthermore, data did not exist for each year: a country might provide data for a couple of years and then stop.

Finally, for those countries that had provided data, the numbers only related to enrolment rather than graduation.

This is obviously problematic, as the drop-out rate between PhD enrolment and graduation tends to be high not just within Africa but globally.

The map links enrolment numbers with population data from the World Bank.

Over the next 12 months, we will be pushing beyond this initial data exploration to gather statistics from governments, universities and research institutes - thus helping to build a fuller picture of Africa's PhD investment and growth

To see the data sets used to produce this map, please click here.

This and other content in the Africa's PhD Renaissance Series is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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