Academic orientation and mentoring - tackling the gender disparities and higher education limitations in Africa

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Most universities in the developed world have instigated orientation and mentoring programmes for
probationary academic members of staff to allow them to reach their full potential as teachers and
researchers. Orientation and mentoring programmes in most African Universities are lacking, not
functional and/or not implemented which places new academics at a disadvantage and can be career
threatening. Based on extensive consultation and questionnaire with environmental health (EH)
academics indicated that up to 63% faced problems when beginning their careers in academia. The
most common problem related to a lack of orientation and being appointed to a position for which
they had no prior experience or support. Mentoring from more experienced academics in their
department and faculty, particularly for female academics was absent or not properly applied in the
majority of institutions. The disparities between men and women in their professional academic
careers must also be taken into consideration in terms of mentoring and support to enable all
academics to develop successful teaching and learning careers. With the lack of institutional
experience held in some Universities, such mentoring schemes can be strengthened through the use of
regional and pan African networks to allow academics to gain access to a wealth of experience and
advice in their fields. The Africa Academy for Environmental Health (AAEH) recommends the
following actions on the part of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and associated networks to
address these challenges as piloted by the AAEH: (1) Development of standard orientation package for
all new members of academic staff; (2) initiation of mentoring schemes for academic staff using
traditional and innovative methods both institutionally and regionally similar to that achieved in
environmental health.
Original languageEnglish
TypePolicy brief
Number of pages2
Place of Publicationonline
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • academic orientation
  • mentoring
  • gender disparities
  • higher education
  • africa


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