>The Academic Future of Africa

> I have spent a few days at The University Leaders’ Forum 08, organized by Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) in collaboration with University of Ghana. It was a conference around the topic of the New Generation of Academics.

Because of the emergence of a global knowledge society, enrollment rates world wide are increasing, in Africa even more so, putting pressure on the aging group of university lecturers and highlighting the need for new blood. At the same time, young well educated people move abroad in search of better opportunities, hence increasing the pressure on those remaining.

Even if the enrollment rates are increasing, its not enough. Many drop out, many more do not have access to tertiary education and finally very few become university lecturers in Africa. The consequences are two; there will not be enough teachers to educate the new generation, even at lower levels. Additionally, with a low output of tertiary graduates, Africa will be left behind in the knowledge economy.

My research looking at why Ghanaian students migrate (or don’t) was a perfect fit for the conference. I was the most junior participant and enjoyed the discussions and academic input. It was highly rewarding to meet with Vice-Chancellors from the whole continent, researchers whose works I’ve read and foreign founders who work relentlessly to change the academic environment in Africa, but will the change come from them?

The map from Worldmapper.org shows the territory size by world wide proportion of people enrolled in tertiary education, who live there. Thanks to the VC of University of Western Cape, Brian O’Connell for pointing me to this effective visualizing aid.