The Nuffield Foundation: Mentoring African Research in Mathematics

In 2005 The Nuffield Foundation (http://www.nuff/) awarded a grant for a two-year pilot project to support mathematics and its teaching in universities in the Anglophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The theme of the project was chosen to be �Mentoring African Research in Mathematics�. Invitations were made for expressions of interest from mathematicians in the United Kingdom and from African institutions to participate in the programme. From the applications, suitable mathematicians in the United Kingdom were identified and the following departments were selected to participate in this project, starting in 2006:

* Department of Mathematics, Addis Ababa University( ), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
* Department of Mathematics, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon;
* Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, Kwame Nkurumah University of Science and Technology(, Kumasi, Ghana.

The Nuffield Foundation grant was awarded jointly to the London Mathematical Society (LMS) (, the International Mathematical Union (IMU) (, and the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative (AMMSI)

AMMSI focuses on building infrastructure and networking in mathematics in sub-Saharan Africa. It offers postgraduate scholarships, visiting lectureships, and conference support for the benefit of advanced students and young researchers in the mathematical sciences. The Nuffield grant is designed to support that infrastructure and network. Among other activities, this project proposes to pilot a mentoring relationship between mathematicians in the United Kingdom and African colleagues in Anglophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa, together with their students. During the two-year project period the aim is to create five mentoring collaborations in mathematical research and two in mathematics education, involving the following:

* Short visits by UK mathematicians to African institutions and reciprocal visits by African mathematicians to their colleagues in UK institutions
* Creation of joint research projects between UK mathematicians, their colleagues in Africa, and doctoral students of those colleagues
* Graduate student fellowships
* Research support

Every year invitations will be made for expressions of interest by departments of mathematics and mathematics education, in Anglophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa, that are interested in being part of these mentoring collaborations. Expressions of interest will be welcome from those with no prior experience of collaboration with UK researchers, as well as from those with existing links involving UK mathematicians. In addition to other pertinent information, the expression of interest will be required to:

* Specify the areas of mathematics, or mathematics education, in which collaboration is sought, in order of priority
* Indicate willingness to host a short visit from a UK mathematician and to allow a mathematician from the department to make a short visit to the UK
* Express a commitment to a continuing mentoring responsibility.

The trustees will evaluate the success of the collaborations by asking the following questions:

* For research collaborations, has the research collaboration resulted in a mathematical publication in a research mathematics journal of international standing? Or has the collaboration produced an MSc or PhD thesis?
* For a mathematics education collaboration, has it produced publishable resource materials for teachers? Or has a mathematics based professional development program been sufficiently successful to be replicated elsewhere and/or to attract outside funding?

In March 2006, The Leverhulme Trust( awarded a grant for 3 years, effective from 1st October 2006, to support a project by AMMSI, The International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) (, Edinburh, Scotland, the International Mathematical union (IMU) and the London Mathematical society (LMS).

The project focuses on building the community of postgraduate students and younger researchers in mathematics in sub-Saharan Africa, through a variety of strategies:

* Short visits by mathematicians to institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to conduct postgraduate classes and supervise research;
* Support for seminars and workshop attendance and organization.

Currently preparations are being made for implementation of this project.