[China-Africa-World Bank Education Partnership Forum]States of higher education science and technology in Africa

  • Written by Huang Xiao, Edited by Tan Yudong
  • Published: 2017-07-11
  • 40

Higher education plays a critical role in development countries, particularly in the global context, in which knowledge-based innovations drive socio-economic development. Dr. Muhammed Salif, executive secretary of Ghana National Council for Higher Education, had introduced status of higher education science and technology in Africa.

There are three stages of the development of African education, Good Old Days(1950s-1960s), the turbulent 1980s and the crossroads. First stage, African higher education institution built a solid reputation as centers of excellent comparable to the best around the world. Second stage, political instability and government challenge led to economic crisis of the period. Donor withdrawal from higher education also led to further deterioration of the quality of output.

With the advent of the democracy and good government, global knowledge, economy, Africa needs high quality people work for their society. The key challenge is the training of Africans for the emerging new economy and maintaining access and quality of outputs. Science and technology in most Africa countries and higher education system have for as long appeared to operated to operate in parallel, without much connection to each other and with little linkages with the productive sector.

Africa higher education is facing challenges such as weak linkage with industry for practice training, limited employment of graduate, declining quality and poor research output. The population of African is large with almost 200 billion Africans aged between 15 and 25, which means Africa has great potential to improve their technology, but most of them can not get higher education. There are many education institutions in Africa, but most of them are private. The gross enrolment ratio is very low, only 9%. The enrollment rate has grown rapidly, but these are not meeting the economic development of Africa. In Africa, less than 1% of all enrollments are PHD students and 63% of enrollments are major in Arts and Humanities. This are the main reasons of Africa's inability to quickly catch up with other developing countries. The reason of most student chose Art and Humanities is that the middle school and high schools are short on experiment devices of nature science.

Finally, they feel science is difficult and getting not interested in it. Very few people major in engineering and technology, Africa face building a highly skilled and educated workforce and Africa devotes a substantial proportion of government budget to the education sector, despite relatively low GDP, it is often not enough, certainly has not matched increasing enrolments. Africa hopes to cooperate with Chinese normal universities to help them train African teachers, purchase cheaper experiment device from China instead of from Europe in the near future.