Written by Catherine Mloza-Banda
What can Higher Education do for Africa?
Higher Education is instrumental in building human capital that is vital for facilitating social and economic development. Countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan show undisputable evidence that increased access to higher education creates way for increased strides in development. Thus, it is imperative that Africa is likely to reap social and economic gains if we build the necessary human resource that is critical in exploiting socio-economic opportunities through increasing access to Higher education.
What is the current status of Higher Education in Africa?
About 65% of people in Africa are below the age of 35. However, less than 10% of young people are enrolled in higher education in Africa as compared to the global average of 26%. In 2007, the tertiary student enrollment ratio in sub-Saharan Africa was only around 6%, the lowest quantity of the world regions.
Why is this so?
There are so many challenges facing higher education face in Africa. These challenges range from lack of adequate funding, to inadequate human personnel and facilities.
How can we solve this problem? It is through increasing enrollment? Increasing funding? Building more universities? All these solutions are indeed plausible solutions to improving higher education, but who propels these changes? Who ensures that enrollment is increased? Who will ensure funding is increased? Leaders!
Without harnessing the political will of our leaders in Africa, improving higher education will yet be another mirage; a goal often talked about, seldom achieved. The selection of 10 African champions of Education, Science and Technology during the 25th African Union (AU) Assembly in South Africa demonstrates an appreciation of the importance of political engagement and also the relevance of right policy moves to change things for the better. It is hoped that the 10 Champions will serve to push higher education in the right direction in Africa.