Experts in tertiary education on the African continent are set to meet in Kigali to look into what can be done to improve the quality of tertiary education in line with achieving sustainable development goals.
The conference organised by the Sustainable Development Centre for Africa (SDGC/A) is slated to take place from Wednesday to Thursday in Kigali.
Dubbed, “Mobilising African intellectuals towards quality tertiary education,” the conference will attract actors in tertiary education from within the continent and the diaspora.
It will draw a coalition of African intellectuals who will brainstorm and hold principal discussions on practical actions, explore solutions and build consensual approaches that can be undertaken right away against the back-drop of under-performing higher education systems throughout the continent.
At a press conference yesterday, Dr Belay Begashaw, the Director General of SDGC/A pointed out the need to address the quality of tertiary institutions in Africa.
“There is huge concern across the continent about quality of education. Africa achieved significant achievements during the MDGs time where primary education enrolment increased to actually 77 per cent coverage. However, all these efforts have to be consolidated, strengthened and substantiated in a meaningful way if we will achieve the same results on secondary and tertiary education,” he said.
“When it comes to quality I think there is very clear tension between the increments that we have made in terms of quantity and the type of quality that is expected to be made by the African as well as the world standard,” he said, citing an example of international university ratings in 2016 where Africa had only one university out of the best one hundred universities, and only 4 in the best 500.
“This is scary and very disturbing, we cannot continue this way knowing that in 2050, half of the world under-25 population will be living in Africa. If we continue with this performance, it means that half of the world’s under-25 population will be suffering from such kind of low-performing education system. On the contrary, the global knowledge is advancing every day and we will be at one point in a situation where we can’t actually catch up with the advancements and dynamics that the global knowledge will be showing,” he said.
The conference is bringing together university vice chancellors, university academic heads, among other educationists.
Dr Papias Musafiri Malimba, the Minister for Education said that one of the burning issues to look into concerning tertiary education in Africa is coming up with curriculums that are tailored to suit the specific needs of the society.
“We are yet to come up with the curriculums which are perfectly related to the real socio-economic development of our own realities. There is a gap which exists and needs to be bridged,” he said.