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Africa / Education

Provide more funding for higher education

Provide more funding for higher education

Africa’s youth must be at the forefront of the region’s demand for economic change and to provide more funding for higher education.

This has been a clarion call from several policy and education platforms throughout 2022, the most recent of which is the high-level Annual Meeting (AGM) of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, or RUFORUM. RUFORUM is one of the top science institutions on the continent, and it has been meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, since December 12.

At the AGM, Dr Patrick Okori, the new executive secretary of RUFORUM, made yet another powerful plea for increased government investment in higher education, science, and technology to provide youth on the continent with opportunities and means of subsistence and ensure the continent’s economic viability.

His call comes at a time when political leaders have blamed universities for the low levels of state funding for research and development during the past year, claiming that universities do not take into consideration the requirements and desires of the groups they impact.

However, the AGM’s message was crystal clear. To generate the knowledge necessary for an economic revolution in Africa, governments should increase their investments in research, development, and education. This will provide opportunities for the continent’s large youth population.

The goods and services needed for industrialization can only be produced by investing in universities and research facilities, allowing local economies to expand.

According to Okori, the efforts need to be accelerated because, over the next three decades, the number of people in their working years in Africa will increase by approximately 14% every five years.

He noted that this should be accomplished by harnessing the youth’s enormous potential to ensure that it leads to “something meaningful” and allows them to drive the desired change.

He emphasized that to achieve this goal, a significant investment must be made in the education system by focusing on skill development for young people at all levels of education, including secondary, primary, and university.

He pointed out that, without a doubt, higher education is the key to accelerating job creation for young Africans and, when combined with innovation, science, and technology, will lead to significantly higher economic growth rates.

Under the African Centres of Excellence (ACEII) initiative, the World Bank has awarded six centres of excellence worth $218 million to the countries of Southern Africa. These centres will operate until 2025.

Kwame said that Zimbabwean universities could use their help and would also help the centres fulfil their mission.

“In addition, there are additional nations that require your support, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan, which are just emerging from conflict or have limited human resource capacity.

You will not only be supporting the accomplishment of your mandate but also the larger cause of Africa by providing them with opportunities,” he added.

According to Professor Gaspard Banyankimbona, the executive secretary of the Inter-University Council for East Africa, who oversees the ACEII initiative, the project had achieved all of its objectives, including the training of PhDs and MScs, the establishment of partnerships, the generation of external revenue by more than one hundred per cent, and publications.

The 24 centres had trained 5,312 MSc students, exceeding the World Bank’s goal of 3,700, and 1,395 PhDs, exceeding the World Bank’s goal of 925. He told a roundtable of education and agriculture ministers that the ACEII universities had also produced 3,185 publications, while the target was 1,500, and had raised externally US$39 million, while the bank had set the goal at US$30 million.


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