December 10, 2012  

Debating Higher Ed Reform in Africa

Higher education can—and must—play a critical role in fueling economic development and building just societies in Africa.  But its promise is unlikely to be fully realized unless higher education leaders make a concerted effort to enhance its relevance and responsiveness to the political, social and economic realities of their countries. 

A series of policy dialogues funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and implemented by TrustAfrica is producing analysis of, and innovative ideas about ways to revitalize higher education in Africa.

Once considered a public good, by the 1980s higher education became commodified, its once special status much diminished.  As resources in many countries grew increasingly scarce, many of the best students and professors seized better opportunities overseas. Critics dubbed it “the lost decade,” and higher education in Africa has had a difficult time recovering. More recently, universities have suffered as an unintended consequence of an emphasis on universal primary and secondary education.

It is neither possible nor desirable to turn back the clock. Today’s challenges of access, quality, relevance and cost are now compounded by the rapid pace of globalization, privatization, and the emergence of new information and communication technologies.  To help chart the way forward, Carnegie Corporation has funded TrustAfrica to mount a three-year initiative to broaden the discourse about the role of higher education in Africa and identify the best ways to fulfill its potential. This work has initially focused on four countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Read more about TrustAfrica’s African Higher Education Dialogues

Some of the debates catalyzed by the dialog in Nigeria and Tanzania have been captured in the press:

Daily News (Tanzania)
Dons urge democratic students’ governance in tertiary institutions

Kenya Daily Eye
Kawambwa pledges conducive policies

Voice of Nigeria
Education stakeholders set to transform system

Punch (Nigeria)
Nigeria loses N78.5bn annually to foreign varsities — VCs

Sunday Trust (Nigeria)
Nigeria losses $500m annually to European, American universities -VCs

PM News (Nigeria)
$500m spent by Nigerian students in EU, US  

Nigeria Watch
Vice chancellors want dash for UK education curbed