Tanzania last week called on universities and the business community to establish strong partnership in order to build knowledge-based economies in the East African states.
While addressing the 1st East African Higher Education Forum and Exhibitions 2012 held in Arusha, Tanzanian Vice President Mohammed Gharib Bilal said higher learning institutions and private sector need to work closely for them to make a significant complement to the region’s socio-economic development.
“As East African governments, we want you (private sectors and universities) play a big role in transforming and promoting the livelihoods of the general public,” he said.
He noted that in most of the East African countries, favorable environment for the higher learning and private sectors play their role in pushing forward the region’s development agenda.
“There is no way there region can develop, without having a strong university-industry partnership,” the VP said, adding that this is important due to the fact that it will expedite the process of regional integration as well as reinforcing developmental aspiration of the community as spelt out in article 5 of the East African Community (EAC) treaty.
He further asked varsities in the region to respond to the global demands and challenges in order to effectively contribute to a rapid socio-economic development in the region.
Bilal also implored the need for the region to harmonize higher education and training systems, the move that will facilitate free mobility of youths to study in a university of their choice in any partner state and at the same time to enable cross-border mobility of graduates.
On the importance of higher education, the VP said: “Higher education is so important for the promotion and protection of cultural diversity within our communities, in democratization of the society and promotion and supporting trade in the region, all of which are critical factors for the achievement of regional integration.”
EAC Secretary General, Richard Sezibera, implored the need for the community to put more emphasis in the promotion of equity and further expansion of student’s enrolment in higher education, while being mindful of the need to maintain equality of the education provided and to promote the inclusion of ideas of the community at the university curricular and in research. He also commended Inter University Council of East Africa (IUCEA) and the East African Business Council (EABC) for their efforts and progress it is making towards transforming East Africa into a common higher education area.