Performance – not aspiration – needed to revitalise higher education


Performance – not aspiration – needed to revitalise higher education

In the African context, during colonial domination that was characterised by an economic model of extraction and exploitation, higher education was not regarded as ‘value-adding’. In the post-colonial era, newly independent African nations regarded universities as important for elite formation and for training the labour force at the professional level.

Development aid, as can be illustrated by the World Bank’s ‘policy advice’ with respect to higher education, did not incorporate producing new knowledge as a function of the African university. And when international donor agencies did begin to regard universities as important for development, the main focus for development aid was on direct assistance with (community) development.

Higher education in Africa thus developed a path of dependency that privileged the ‘ideological, eliteformation’ and ‘training the labour force’ functions of the typology of university functions, while the ‘production of scientific knowledge with application in society’ function was not developed.

So does revitalisation mean that new life must be breathed into university systems where the ‘generation of new knowledge’ function is the major area of underdevelopment and underperformance?

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