According to the 2009 Top 100 Universities and Colleges in Africa, only 20 african higher education systems are among the best. More surprisingly, only 7 french speaking  countries (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Île de la Reunion, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia) are effective enough to have their universities selected in that updated ranking.

To understand the importance of the university in african countries, it is worth underlining the fact that, due to the precariousness of infrastructure, the limited number of research centers and the low-level number of researchers and scientists available in most counries, as an institution, the university is primary site for research. Most high-level expertise, research centers and most laboratories are located in the african universities’ compound.

Since research is one of the pillars of academic activity, along with teaching and community service, it is fair to highlight the fact that research must be a mean to find african solutions to african problems. In addition to that, training programs should be more inclined to african perspectives and community service should be more goal oriented, closer to the realities of african society. Given the fact that any university in the world should be a center of  effective knowledge, in some African countries, that definition is not close to the reality. In order to see that standard a reality, african universities must also interact with other international knowledge centers, on an intensive basis. Therefore, they’d improve and contribute to the world community. Unfortunately, according to the latest ranking, there are not enough african universities that are ready to play the above described role. Hence, in this new decade, efforts should be made drastically in the other 33 african countries where statistics are not encouraging.

Of course, in most of african countries, universities face lack of means, and when there are available ressources from governments, these funds are distracted from research and used to pay the operating costs of poorly managed institutions. But, isn’t the university a place where management is taught…

Here is a poll. Tell us what african universities need to do in order to improve their local and global rankings

One thought on “Understanding the University role in Africa”

  1. Dear Philemon, it might be important to stress out the fact that the ranking you are refering to has nothing to do with the quality of services or education provided by those universities but rather reflects the popularity of their respective websites on the internet. Therefore I think it’s wrong to use that ranking to argue in the way you did.


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