News Integrating AI ethics in higher education curricula in Africa

The Responsible AI Network – Africa, in cooperation with its partners at GIZ- Fair Forward, kicked off the Fall with their 4th workshop of 2020. The workshop focused on ‘Integrating AI Ethics into Higher Education Curricula in Africa’ and was moderated by Caitlin Corrigan (TUM IEAI) and Abraham Kuuku Sam (GIZ – Fair foward). The event brought together a panel of university professors representing different educational contexts across the continent in Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana. 

Dr. Laeticia N. Onyejegbu, Department of Computer Science – University of Port Harcourt (Nigeria) talked about the AI programs and the current state of AI ethics in Nigerian higher education curriculums. She emphasised the need to involve local stakeholders in order to effectively integrate AI into the curriculum, noting challenges instructors will likely face to bring more discussion of AI ethics to classrooms if stakeholders do not work together.

Prof. Patrick Kanyi Wamuyu, School of Science and Technology – United States International University (Kenya) discussed how AI holds much promise within the Africa continent in addressing challenges and improving socio-economic development, while noting its potential to exacerbate existing problems and create new ones when AI falls in the wrong hands. He highlighted the need to introduce AI ethics into higher education curriculum through local communities and collaboration with between universities and research institutions in order for it to be effective.

Prof. Patrick McSharry, Carnegie Mellon University Africa (Rwanda) pointed out major challenge of bias in AI-enabled systems that can disadvantage marginalised individuals. He also pointed out that Trustworthy AI should be lawful, ethical and robust  while taking into account its social environment. However, he also underscored the fact that for many computer science students, they feel their responsibility is to ensure technical robustness, and that others with different expertise should focus on lawful and ethical considerations. This remains a challenge to promoting AI ethics in higher education

Prof. Jerry Kponyo, Head of Quality Assurance and Planning Unit, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana) and Co-Founder of RAIN-Africa talked about the scenarios in which AI could be included in the curriculum: either by introducing AI Eithics as a course in existing curriculum or through revised lecture notes. He also highlighted FAIR forward Collaboration with RAIN-Africa to support Universities and Research Institutions in Africa to create awareness through workshops, conferences and online courses for higher education stakeholders on the need of responsible AI

These presentations were followed by an open discussion session in which we heard from Director of the IEAI, Prof. Christoph Lütge, on his experience integrating ethics in the TUM Business School Curriculum. Several ideas were discussed as potential ways for RAIN-Africa to support the integration of AI ethics into higher education curriculums in Africa:

  • RAIN-Africa members contributing to a repository collecting different experiences and best practices, use cases, and data sets, with a particular focus on tolls and cases that apply in the African context. The repository would be hosted on the RAIN-Africa website.
  • Open training for lecturers and university administration on how to integrate Ethics into AI the curriculum (development of an online course).

Click on the image to download the slides: