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Summit Produces Draft Declaration and Plan For Higher Education in Africa

Dakar – The three day continental summit on higher education summit culminated in the first draft of the declaration and action plan on African higher education unveiled on Thursday, 12 March 2015, in Dakar, Senegal by TrustAfrica Executive Director, Dr. Tendai Murisa.

The summit, attended by some 500 participants among them Kofi Annan: former Secretary General of the United Nations; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; ministers of higher education; dignitaries; some 50 vice chancellors from across Africa; students and academics was officially closed by ministers Oppah Muchinguri from Zimbabwe and Mountaga Tall from Mali, with an address made by a representative of the minister of higher education and research in Senegal.

“Higher education is critical for Africa’s renewal and renaissance ” said Muchinguri.

Africa spends $1 billion per year on higher education when the continent should be spending $50 billion according to experts. The number of students has more than tripled from 2.7 million in 1991 to 9.3 million in 2006 and continues to rise.

The draft declaration which is in response to the needs for the future of higher education in Africa, emerged out of years of country policy dialogues, commissioned papers, interactions and consultations with a focus on a prosperous Africa at peace with itself. It states that:

Africa’s nearly 2,000 higher education institutions exhibit divergent missions, visions and values, patterns of access, enrollment and equity, systems of management, governance and accountability, financing and budgeting models, quality of teaching and learning pedagogies and infrastructures, levels of training for academic staff and research productivity, and forms of national, regional and international collaborations and partnerships. They also differ in the nature of their relations with the state, practices of institutional autonomy and academic freedom, linkages with society and industry, and ability to produce graduates needed by the economy.

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It is therefore critical to:

  • Develop a high quality, massive, vibrant, diverse, differentiated, innovative, autonomous and socially responsible higher education sector that will be a driving force to achieving the vision outlined in Agenda 2063 by the African Union with commitment to “ A shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development and a global strategy to optimize the use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans”.
  • Produce the human capital required for the continent’s inclusive and sustainable development, democratic citizenship, and repositioning as a major global actor.

The declarations calls on the sector to expand higher education by:

Achieving through concomitant investments in academic staff, infrastructure, and facilities by the state, private sector, and society at large, a higher education enrolment ratio of 50%, which is likely to be the world average by 2063. Currently, the world enrolment ratio is 32%, while for sub-Saharan Africa it is about 8% and for the Arab states (including those outside the continent) it is 26%.

Aiming to reach gender parity in tertiary enrolments within a decade as well as in postgraduate education in science, engineering and technology fields and among academic staff and senior administrators. Globally gender parity of tertiary enrolments was reached in 2005 and females now slightly outnumber males. For sub-Saharan Africa the female enrolment ratio in 2012 was 37.7%, down from 39.1% in 1999, and for the Arab states it was 50.3% in 2012, up from 39.1% in 1999.

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Attain 100% terminal degrees for faculty within higher education institution by 2063, with at least 54% of them being women.

Aim to develop higher education systems that accommodate older learners seeking higher education and provides robust life-learning.

Identify and develop 200 universities that will constitute a hub of excellence both in knowledge, citizenship and relevance to key needs of African development by 2063; Every African country shall create one hub of excellence to every 3 million population

By 2063 have a higher education hub in each African country that can create key elements of development with links to publishing, marketing, ICT and various aspects of business.

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