Visit to Ghana and portrait of M. Trotignon, director of the n+i Network
Mr. Trotignon, Counsellor of the Executive Director of the N + i Network (a consortium of 50 engineering schools in France) visited Ghana to meet the various actors involved with Franco-Ghanaian cooperation as well as potential partners in higher education and industry.
Mr Trotignon poses with the Campus France team and the Technical Adviser in charge of France-Ghana university cooperation
Mr. Trotignon, Counsellor of the Executive Director of the N + i Network, visited Ghana early February to meet actors involved with Franco-Ghanaian cooperation (including Campus France & Alliance Française), as well as potential academic partners: University of Ghana and Ashesi University College. He also visited the French International School, Lycée Français Jacques Prevert, in Accra where he presented to students, various academic programmes and career paths in engineering. In addition, Mr. Trotignon met with French companies based in Ghana to present training packages and schemes they might offer to their employees within the framework of recruitment and on-the-job training.
Could you introduce yourself in a few words?
I graduated from the Arts et Métiers ParisTech School of Engineering, then I obtained a Master of Sciences from the Ecole Polytechnique in Canada, (Université de Montréal) and then a Doctor of Physical Sciences degree from the Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University (UPMC), Paris 6.
My professional career has been in two parts. Firstly, in academics, as a researcher, professor and director of the Materials department at the Arts et Métiers ParisTech in Paris. Secondly, in international relations, first at the Scientific Department of the Embassy of France in London and then as Director of the N + i Network which I founded.
What is N + i ?
The consortium brings together about 50 major French Schools of Engineering including Arts et Métiers Paristech, CentraleSupélec, Ponts Paris Tech, ENSAE Paris Tech, INSA and Polytech, just to name a few. The N + i Network contributes to training of international decision-makers of the future.
The “N + i” designation signifies a national education (’ N ’) that adds an international dimension (’ i ’). The N + i Network focuses on cultural and linguistic complements to academic training. It offers engineering training which incorporates added elements of French language learning and short scientific and cultural stays.
Through a single application platform, the network offers training programmes ranging from 2 months to 3 years with personalized coaching: before departure to ease integration then upon arrival in France with welcome and transfers as well as administrative procedures for housing, insurance, bank account, registration and so on.
For nearly 20 years, nearly 3,000 engineers from 83 countries have graduated, through the N + i Network. Of these, 40% are women.
What is your perspective on the relationship between France and Africa and particularly with Ghana?
By the year 2050, Africa is projected to have a population of 1.3 billion people, a large proportion of which will be French speakers. The development of this continent will contribute to global growth in a major way by bringing all its wealth and particularities. For these two reasons the training of bilingual engineers (French and English) with multicultural experience is key. We must contribute to the training of engineers and technicians who possess not just technological and ethical management skills but also openness of mind, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit to respond to the needs of African countries. This requires us to innovate and move away from the mere duplication of ’European classic’ programmes. Instead of just focusing on academic prowess sanctioned by conventional degrees, we must focus on creating innovative programmes that are more centred on the individual and their ability to take initiative, create and effectively manage team at the local level.
Could you tell us about your projects in Ghana?
The will, at the highest level of the state, to promote bilingual training in Ghana, encourages us to launch innovative projects in Ghana such as those previously discussed.
We are considering two types of programs for youth trained in Ghana:
1. In a classic way, we plan to propose bilingual pathways clearly defined from the secondary level (at the Lycée Français for example) leading to an engineering training in France including a stage for a bachelor’s degree at a Ghanaian university. The final semester meant for industrial internship could be done in international companies based in Ghana.
2. In a more innovative way, we could propose post-Secondary programme that is less academic in nature for candidates selected based more on a balance between skills already acquired and entrepreneurial qualities, than on academic achievements. This non-diploma training would mainly be based on the development of managerial qualities such as integration into the formal economy, communication skills, social responsibility etc.).