Syndicate content

Add new comment

Dear Shanta, as someone that have been very concern thinking about how African countries can have better Universities, I welcome your paper a lot. Coming from a country considered a serious candidate to be "developed", Chile, where in this moment the whole tertiary educational system is under fire by most of the society, I would like to share some "comparative thoughts". While I tend to agree with you that introducing "cost sharing" of higher education can be a good principle in order to reduce the financing problem and reduce some regressive subsidies, I doubt that this can be effectively implemented. When higher education went from free to paid in Chile (around 30 years ago), never really happened that fees from the rich when to scholarships to the poor. The general improvement in living conditions made a lot of people go to the university, and the Government answer was giving subsidized credits to those that couldn't afford the fees. The result was a skyrocket increase in fees, now the highest in the world. The big problem in a system with differentiated fees is to identify the “real poor”, something I doubt can be done effectively in Africa. The ideal for me is that the rich get properly taxed and then everyone pays small fees in a University funded with these taxes. Since this is not feasible in Africa, a system that combines (small and regulated) direct fees + credits + scholarships + help to prepare examination tests is the best…. I know, difficult to implement as well. In terms of the contents, I tend to disagree that the Anglo-Saxon tertiary system of education is what Africa needs. While I think this is the best for a country like Chile, where we need professionals with adaptability and mobility, capable to understand the general picture and applied in different fields, we can do that because we have a critical mass of very specialized and high qualified professionals like engineers, lawyers, physicians, etc… this clearly not the case in Africa. There is the need to train these professionals, requiring 4-5-6 years of specialized studies, particularly because few of them can have the luxury of affording a master degree (even less a PhD) after 4 years of a “general” bachelor. Instead, I think technical institutes that allow getting a degree in a couple of years should be promoted in parallel with universities that offer the very specialized degrees. Also, since most of the people in Africa have some kind of “profession”, with knowledge acquired by practice, institutions that can certify that a person have determined skills and knows the techniques required to perform determined jobs can be a good solution for workers.