Reflections on the incentive structures at African universities and their impact on the direction and performance of the continent’s development

Research has proven that there is a clear positive correlation between the level of education in a country and its economic development. The Asian tiger economies invested heavily in higher education as one of the precursor for their rapid economic development. Africa is trying to do the same: in the past 20 years African universities have gone from elite to mass education institutions. However, while societies develop rapidly, especially in urban areas, the African graduates are to a large degree getting the same kind of education as their grandfathers. While the universities as institutions had to adapt to changing conditions there has been little change in the learning paradigm, making African graduates ill equipped to address 21st century challenges. The current skills gap is diminishing the ability both at aggregate (continental) as well as national level to use the full potential of their educated elite to boost societal and economic development. In past decades there have been many initiatives and projects trying to update the academic learning paradigm within African Universities but with limited impact. Based on extensive recent visits to universities in Africa hypotheses are proposed that this might partly be related to the fact that many of the existing incentive structures governing higher education are poorly aligned to the quality and local relevance of training and research programs; and by implication the graduates being chunned out. Furthermore, relevant policies and existing structures for securing quality higher education are often also poorly enforced so they do not have the intended effect on the behaviour of faculty and management behaviour.

Ekwamu, Adipala
Nampala, Paul
Issue Date:
Sep 30 2016
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Record Identifier:
Published in:
African Journal of Rural Development (AFJRD), Volume 1, Issue 2
Page range:

 Record created 2017-09-26, last modified 2018-01-23

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