April 8, 2017. The African School of Economics community once again organized its 3rd one-to-ones chat session, a forum for students to interact with a researcher via WhatsApp.

The guest was Louphou Coulibaly, a 4th year PhD candidate from the University of Montreal in Canada. The conversations between ASE students and Mr. Coulibaly revolved around macroeconomic theory topics including business cycles, monetary policy, macroeconomic effects of financial crises, and optional financial regulation, which are Mr. Coulibaly’s areas of interest.

According to Mr. Coulibaly, doing a PhD in Economics is the best way to learn more about economics and thus be able to participate in the development of students’ respective countries. ASE students also gained insights from him about the best way to proceed when writing a Master thesis in Economics. He said that first, students need to be involved in and love what they want to do as researchers. Next, they should find the field in which they are interested, then find a supervisor, and finally choose a relevant research question. Mr. Coulibaly’s experience sharing and contributions were very helpful to students. At the end of the session, Mr. Coulibaly said that what was achieved through this chat session was very great and that he expects to have another opportunity to interact with ASE students.

These sessions are an initiative of Simplice Adjisse, an ASE pre-doctoral fellow and moderator of the event. Further WhatsApp discussions are yet to be organized, and students are looking forward to the next guest.

According to the ASE administration, the students' success also depends on good relations between them. One of the tools to strengthen these relationships is mentoring. The first edition of the Mentoring Ceremony, was led by the Communications Department of the Pan-African University.

 

The atmosphere was friendly on February 6th on the campus of the African School of Economics. The goal of this ceremony is very simple: to match newcomers from ASE’s January intake of students with new mentors. These mentors, who are already students at ASE, will facilitate their integration through advice, attentive listening, and good camaraderie. Communications Manager, Wilfried Gnanvi, in ​​his opening speech encouraged the students to maintain a good atmosphere within ASE, whose student body is made up of nearly a dozen nationalities. He also announced an Integration Day that will involve initiatives designed to enable the various nationalities within the African School of Economics to know each other better and to accept one another. About thirty students took part in this ceremony, most of them new to ASE; a number of the peer mentors were participating in fieldwork for IERPE research and could not attend. The names of their mentees will be communicated to them by e-mail by the communications team, represented at the ceremony by Philile Shongwe and Wilfried Gnanvi. Student delegate, Lewis Atta and MMES representative, Christelle Zozoungbo participated in the organization of the ceremony. The students appreciated the initiative and are looking forward to Integration Day.

 

Damase Sossou, an Impact Evaluation specialist, talks about the Impact Evaluation in Public Policy program offered by the African School of Economics.

Communications Team: How do you contribute to a successful Certificate in Impact Evaluation in Public Policy (CEIPP) program?

Damase SOSSOU: Well, I can say we contributed to designing the program. It came as a result of discussions I personally had with Professor Wantchékon; I actually work in the department in charge of public policy evaluation and government action analysis at the presidency of the Republic. The need was obvious. The ASE started the program and it is my duty to support the initiative so that executives who take part in it receive effective training. I also teach two class modules. One is Introduction to Impact Evaluation, and the other is Experimental Methods.

Communications Team: Why is the CEIPP program important for professionals in general?

Damase SOSSOU: This program is important in that it directly touches upon how people implement public policy programs globally. The existing monitoring system unfortunately does not make it possible to see the value added. This certificate will make it possible for participants to acquire adequate technical skills so they can determine the added value of a program being implemented in their sector – especially with regards to peoples' living conditions – using a rigorous statistical method.

Communications Team: What distinguishes ASE from other institutions offering the same course?

Damase SOSSOU: ASE's program is a certification, not a degree program. The certificate here is characterized by having a larger focus on quantitative methods.

Communications Team: What are the entry requirements for the CEIPP?

Damase SOSSOU: Any professional who holds at least a Master's degree can take part in the certificate program we are offering. This program does not exclude candidates based on their profile, however, it would be easier for someone with a background in areas such as economy, planning, and project management to take this course. What we are offering does not necessarily lead people to become experts in impact evaluation but they do understand the impact evaluation process, and a manager who understands this process has more skills and can better implement programs. This program is therefore not only for experts; it is also for managers.

Communications Team: I understand the need for workers to have the certificate, but what is the need for students who have not started working yet?

Damase SOSSOU: This certificate is necessary for students in that it goes a little beyond the academic setting because case studies are presented to participants. They are introduced to concepts that cannot be presented in an academic course. The teaching method is pragmatic, i.e. the teachers are not university lecturers, but practitioners; this offers a much more interesting prospect than an ordinary academic course. So for students who are about to complete their studies, this is a certificate that enables them have more opportunities with regards to employment than just an academic or professional degree. The CEIPP is also professional but is much more centered on real-life practice and on program management.

Communications Team: We are almost at the end of our interview; do you have anything else to add?

Damase SOSSOU: I would like to encourage all the people who want to improve their performance in their professional positions, and managers to register for this certification. This is an investment I encourage them to make because this will enable them improve their performance in the tasks assigned to them. There are currently many flagship projects being carried out by the government, and it is important for a manager to have these skills in order to better carry out their duties.

 

Over the past two weeks, students at the African School of Economics (ASE) had the privilege of taking an intensive microeconomics course with visiting instructor, Yu Wen, a 3rd Year PhD candidate at the Toulouse School of Economics. Yu Wen has helped students master a number of topics including consumer theory, demand theory and game theory. Even though he has been at ASE for only two weeks, the students have really appreciated Yu’s dedication to teaching them these concepts. By inviting professors from abroad, like Yu Wen, the ASE demonstrates once again its commitment to providing its students with training on par with international standards.

Students working in the Communications Department sat down with Professor Yu and asked him to share his experiences teaching at ASE for the past two weeks.

COMMUNICATIONS TEAM: How do you feel after two weeks teaching an intensive microeconomics course?

YU WEN: After two week’s class, I feel somewhat exhausted, very excited and a strong sense of fulfillment.

COMMUNICATIONS TEAM: Do you think that universities like the ASE should continue to invite professors from other schools to teach advanced Economics courses in Africa?

YU WEN: I must confess that my knowledge of Africa was poor before I came, but still I think the idea is great. Over the past two weeks, I have witnessed the passion and diligence of the students, as well as the demand for balanced economic growth and economic education (advanced or introductory) in Africa. Inviting professors from abroad may serve well as a communicative bridge between students and scholars from Africa and other places around the world. It would even work better than conferences, because the length of stay and interaction with local students and professors potentially helps build long-term productive relationships.

Additionally, ASE would have a competitive advantage if it can invite professors in a consistent and high-profile manner. It would enable ASE to be the center of research and communication in Africa. 

COMMUNICATIONS TEAM: Do you see yourself visiting ASE again?

YU WEN: Sure.

COMMUNICATIONS TEAM: What is your impression of the students and how do they compare to other Economics students who have encountered?

YU WEN: In terms of knowledge, the students are really diversified. However, I dare say that the first year Masters students in Toulouse are not much better. For the passion, hard-work and patience, they are among the top.

COMMUNICATIONS TEAM: Any last remarks?

YU WEN: Thank you very much for the invitation and I honestly enjoyed my visit.

 

The African School of Economics distinguishes itself from other universities not only by the quality of training offered through its programs, but also by the effort they put into developing their students' professional skills. The Work-study Program, which was implemented when the school officially opened in 2014, gives students the opportunity to acquire many skills in addition to their academic training. In a meeting with students in the Communications work-study group on Tuesday, December 17th, the Communications Manager, Wilfried Gnanvi, explained the mission, the objectives and expectations of the communications team at ASE. He also explained how the Department is run and the specific role of the work-study program. In addition to Communications, students have been placed in other departments such as Planning, Research and Academic Affairs. Through its innovative curriculum and emphasis on professional development, the work-study program allows the ASE to truly live up to its goal to be a "path to innovative leadership".