2007 AUTUMN SYMPOSIUM “The University in the 21st Century

“The University in the 21st Century:
a University for Sustainable Development”
Veracruz, Mexico, 15-17 November 2007
“Universities as Development Levers:
Constraints & Challenges – Focus Africa”
Goolam Mohamedbhai
President, International Association of Universities
HE In Africa: Constraints & Challenges
• Access & Equity
• Financing
• Quality
• Relevance
• Research
• Brain Drain
• Governance, Autonomy & Accountability
• Privatization & Globalization
Use of ICT in HE in Africa
Revitalization of HE in Africa
Global sustainable development is only
possible if all regions of the world achieve a
reasonable level of development
There is huge disparity in levels of development
between different regions of the world
This was what led world leaders in 2000 to set
Millennium Development Goals
All economic, social & human development
indicators show Africa, in particular SubSaharan Africa, to be the worst developed
region in the world
Introduction (Cont’d)
Development Indicators for Sub-Saharan Africa
44% live on < $1 a day
31% live with insufficient food
Lowest primary (64%), secondary (24%) and tertiary
(5%) education enrolment. Female enrolment very
low at all levels.
44% of population have no access to improved water,
63% no adequate sanitation
World’s highest deaths of under-5 (168/1000 births)
World’s highest HIV/AIDS prevalence (6.1% of 15-49
yrs adults)
4.6 m people affected by conflicts, mostly refugees
Introduction (Cont’d)
Importance of HE for Development
Higher education essential for promoting economic
growth & reducing poverty in developing countries
In Africa, 1960-1980, HE made significant contribution
1980s: HE in crisis because of economic & political
situation in African countries
1990s: greater attention to primary & secondary
education, HE being neglected because of poor
economic returns
World Bank - 1985-1989: 17% of education spending
to HE; 1995-1999: 7%
Views have now changed, importance of HE globally
Extract from Former UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan’s Speech, August 2000:
“The university must become a primary tool for Africa’s
development in the new century. Universities can help
develop African expertise; they can enhance the
analysis of African problems; strengthen domestic
institutions; serve as a model environment for the
practice of good governance, conflict resolution and
respect for human rights, and enable African
academics to play an active part in the global
community of scholars.”
HE in Africa: Constraints & Challenges
Access and Equity
Governance, Autonomy & Accountability
Privatization & Globalization
Brain Drain
1. Access & Equity
Sub-Saharan Africa has lowest HE enrolment in the world
Tertiary Enrolments Worldwide
[Source: Bloom D, Canning D & Chan K (2006). HE & Economic Development in Africa. Harvard University]
1. Access & Equity (Cont’d)
Yet, significant enrolment increase over past decades
1991: 1m, 1999: 2m, 2004: 3.3m
HE still less accessible in rural areas (where 70% of
population live), to economically & socially
disadvantaged groups & to women (38% in 2004)
In global knowledge economy, human capital is the
most important resource
Africa needs to dramatically increase its enrolment
rate, to at least 30% by 2015, otherwise it will be
further marginalized – a huge challenge!
Such increases cannot be achieved only by
traditional face-to-face delivery. Other approaches DE, online learning, virtual universities – must be
2. Financing
Resources to public HEIs have not proportionately
increased with enrolment. Proportion of education
budget to HE considerably reduced
HEIs being asked to do more with same – or less!
80% of HE budget for recurrent costs (staff salaries
and student grants). Hardly any funds for
infrastructure, research, staff development, etc.
Who should fund HE? State or individual? Is HE a
private or public good? It is both: private good is shortterm & visible; public good is long-term, less tangible.
Public HEI’s must consider cost-sharing & revenuegenerating schemes, but HE provision must remain a
state’s social responsibility
3. Quality
Overcrowding of campuses – can no longer cope with
increased enrolment
Student residences accommodating 5-10 times their capacity
Poor working environment: buildings not maintained, limited lab
equipment, poor accessibility to ICT
No renewal of books & periodicals in libraries
Old curriculum, inadequate mode of delivery, poor teaching
methods & techniques, rote learning
Lack of qualified faculty, very high student to faculty ratio,
ageing faculty
In Francophone countries, very high failure rates and repeaters
in initial years
Lack of institutional Quality Assurance systems
In many countries, no national External Quality Assurance
4. Relevance
High unemployment among graduates
Poor linkages with industry & society, programs not
But HE should also produce job-creators, not just jobseekers
Insufficient attention to S & T, dominance of
humanities and social sciences
Lack of differentiation in HEIs, too many universitytype institutions; not enough polytechnics, technical
colleges, professional institutes, etc. especially in rural
4. Relevance (Cont’d)
Insufficient attention to promoting African culture and
Little consideration to urgent & emerging African
- achieving Education For All (EFA) targets
- achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- improving quality of life in rural communities
- promoting sustainable development
- dealing with human rights, peace and conflict resolution
- introducing democracy & good governance
HE should inculcate critical & independent thinking,
analytical skills & nation-building consciousness. In
short, HE in Africa should produce an “enlightened
5. Research
Poor research output
Published Academic Papers (1995)
South Asia
Latin America & Caribbean
[Source: Bloom D, Canning D & Chan K (2006). HE & Economic Development in Africa. Harvard University]
Shortage of graduate programs
Limited number of research-strong (PhD) faculty
PhDs of faculty in almost all cases obtained from the north, in
areas of no local relevance
Heavy teaching load of faculty
Poor research infrastructure, including ICT
Research not always relevant to national development,
objective being to publish in international journals. Too few
reputable national/regional research journals
6. Governance, Autonomy & Management
Universities often controlled by state & politicized
University autonomy & academic freedom are
prerequisites for HEIs to fulfil their mission, but they
must be accountable to the state
Poor leadership – leaders appointed on political
grounds, not academic or managerial merits
Poor institutional management : no strategic planning,
no Management Information Systems, poor financial
management & accountability, limited delegation &
consultation within institution
7. Privatization and Globalization
African states, being unable to increase public funding to HE,
encourage private HE
Private HEIs, including corporate universities, mostly for-profit,
have emerged. Large numbers but few enrolment
WTO/GATS has promoted free & liberalised trade in HE across
borders – hence emergence of CBHE & globalization of HE
Private HE & CBHE, including DE and online learning, now as
significant as local public HE provision in developing countries
Quality of CBHE a major concern. Hence OECD/UNESCO
Guidelines on Quality in CBHE provision. Also Statement on
CBHE by university associations (led by IAU)
Private HE & CBHE can have negative impact on local public
HEIs – provision of only market-driven courses, unfair
competition, use of their faculty, etc.
Most African countries have no regulatory framework for
controlling private HE & CBHE
8. Brain Drain
No. of Highly Qualified
Professionals Leaving
27,000 (2,000/yr)
40,000 (4,000/yr)
60,000 (12,000/yr)
At present
Source: IOM & UNECA
8. Brain Drain (Cont’d)
Emigrants mostly doctors, nurses, teachers,
academics, engineers, accountants. Africa, at huge
costs, trains for the north
In recent decades Africa lost 1/3 of its highly skilled
people. 40,000 African PhD holders are outside Africa
Africa loses the very people it needs for its
Faculty leave because: poor salaries, poor teaching &
research facilities, lack of academic freedom, political
persecution, conflicts, attractive conditions in the
north, etc
Universities seriously affected by brain drain: depts
close, expansion constrained, poor research output
Efforts currently being made to convert ‘brain drain’
into ‘brain gain’ by making use of Diaspora
Use of ICT in HE in Africa
Use of ICT crucial for HEIs to acquire, produce
and disseminate knowledge
ICT can be effectively used in:
• teaching & learning
• research
• institutional management
ICT can improve both access to & quality of HE
ICT is not exclusively computers and internet. It
includes: telephones, cell phones, radio, TV,
audio/video cassettes, CD-ROM, satellite broadcast,
audio/video conferencing, etc.
Use of ICT in HE in Africa (Cont’d)
Training of large numbers of quality teachers to meet
EFA targets - greatest challenge for African HE
1.6m teachers required just to achieve universal
primary education by 2015
Use of ICT-enabled open and distance learning is the
best solution:
• for producing large numbers of pre-service
quality teachers
• upgrading in-service teachers in subject &
• training teachers in use of ICT
But many constraints & challenges in use of ICT in HE
in Africa
Use of ICT in HE in Africa (Cont’d)
Constraints & Challenges
a) Poor National Information &
Communication Infrastructure (NICI)
ICT Infrastructure: Global Fixed Lines Comparison
ICT Infrastructure: Fixed Line v/s Mobile Uptake in Africa
ICT Infrastructure: Global Internet Comparison
Global Internet Comparison
ICT Infrastructure: Digital Divide Within Africa
North Africa
South Africa
Use of ICT in HE in Africa (Cont’d)
Constraints & Challenges (Cont’d)
b) Interrupted electricity supply
c) Lack of power supply in rural areas
d) High telecommunications costs
e) Low bandwidth & high cost for internet access
f) State control over ICT operators, discouraging private
g) Lack of skilled technical support & staff
h) Lecturers have no training in use of e-teaching &
learning in HEIs
i) No enabling ICT policy at national & institutional levels
j) Lack of funding
Revitalization of HE in Africa
Revitalization of HE started about a decade ago. Two main
triggering factors: World Bank’s attitude change, WCHE of
1998. Most initiatives were, however, uncoordinated
Various initiatives catalogued
“Inventory of major projects in/on HE & research in Africa”
UNESCO, 2003. Lists 300 initiatives sponsored by a range of
agencies & donors. But one-off, not updated.
“African HE Activities in Development” (AHEAD) ACU 2004,
as part of their ‘Renewing the African University’ project.
Database of externally funded projects (349 at June 2005).
Kept up to date.
Source: Kubler, J. (2005). The AHEAD Database. ACU
Revitalization of HE in Africa (Cont’d)
Major coordinated efforts at revitalizing African HE
started around 2005, led by AU & AAU
Overall Objective
Make HE a motor for economic & social development
Specific Objectives
 Increase access through diversification of institutions
 Reduce reliance on state funding, ensure accountability
 Improve management & efficiency, ensure societal relevance of
teaching & research
 Modernise and improve quality, make HE attractive to faculty &
 Assist in finding African solutions to African problems:
HIV/AIDS, EFA, MDGs, sustainable development, democracy &
good governance, peace & conflict resolution
 Promote & preserve African culture
Revitalization of HE in Africa (Cont’d)
Recent Initiatives
‘Partnership for HE in Africa’. Ford, Mac Arthur, Rockefeller, W
F Hewett & Mellon Foundations plus Carnegie. $200m over
‘Regional Capacity Mobilisation Initiative’’. $7m grant from DfID,
UK, over 2006-2010. ‘Challenge Fund’ to be led & managed by
‘Renewing the African University’ (2005-2015) – developed by
AAU, ACU & SAUVCA, endorsed by Africa Commission.
Estimated cost $5 billion. Funding from various sources,
including G8
AAU’s Core Programme. $20.4m over 2005-09
West African Economic & Monetary Union. Support to HEIs in 8
West African Francophone countries. ADF funding over 200611
SARUA. Support to HEIs in 14 SADC countries over 2007-12
Africa faces immense sustainable development
problems and needs the support of its HEIs
To be able to contribute to the development of Africa,
public HEIs must first be reformed. Weaknesses
known, governments committed, international funding
available. Quality must be driving factor in all reforms
so as to attract students and limit brain drain.
Need for differentiated HEIs & diversified programmes
to cater for different types of learners. HEIs to reach
out to rural areas and address gender inequity.
HEIs should cater for all development needs of
society, not just respond to market needs. Govts to
acknowledge that HE is a public good. Private HEIs &
CBHE should be welcomed but regulated
Need for greater emphasis on research – pure &
applied, especially in S&T. Need for differentiated
institutions, some more research-active than others
HEIs have to address both local development
problems & understand global challenges. They need
to be relevant to both the local community and global
society. Pooling resources, creating partnerships and
using African Diaspora necessary.
For public HEIs to be effective, governments must
ensure they are autonomous, they operate in a
peaceful environment devoid of political interference,
but they remain accountable.

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