More researchers are needed in Africa to help combat poverty and other issues. Opening Ceremony of the 4th International Biennial Conference of the ARUA, Lagos, Nigeria, Experts and Dignitaries
According to Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Board Chairman of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), more researchers are needed on the continent to help alleviate poverty and other problems.
At the beginning of ARUA’s 4th International Biennial Conference on Wednesday in Lagos, Nawangwe, who is also the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, made this statement.
Re-imagining the Future of Higher Education in Africa is the theme for this year’s three-day conference.
He argues that in order to free Africa from the several problems stemming from a lack of quality education, African institutions must act swiftly and purposefully.
The only definite solution to overcome Africa’s problem of abject poverty and other challenges is to expand the number of researchers in Africa.
“I’d want to begin by quoting two of Africa’s great sons, the first being Mwalimu Nyerere, who once remarked, “While the rest of the world may walk, Africa must run.”
The second is a statement attributed to Nelson Mandela: “Education is the best way of altering society.”
Education, we believe, is the key to changing Africa for the better.
Africa has experienced a number of setbacks.
The World Bank’s false claims that higher education is a private good and that African countries do not need to invest in higher education stands out to me as the most egregious example.
Over the past two decades, the number of African universities and academics has increased from 200 to over 2,500. For Africa, this bodes well.
Yet even that is fewer schools than China, which has as many people as all of Africa put together.
He claimed that in the past three years, ARUA has grown into the most dynamic association of African universities and is now in a position to spearhead the continent’s necessary transformation.
The don said that the continent’s rapid population expansion was one of its main problems.
His argument is that although Africa’s population is growing, the rest of the world’s is shrinking.
Thus, new inquiries arise. What are our plans for feeding so many people? How shall we make sure that the populace is healthy? How do we make sure that, despite Africa’s growing population, the continent’s enduring conflicts truly lessen?
Those are important issues that require our attention. It’s important for researchers to keep in mind that their work directly impacts the fight against poverty in Africa.
Adding that “you are also making Africa more stable and making the lives of our people more meaningful,” he praised our efforts.
He remarked that the fact that most of the researchers were so young was encouraging news for Africa.
That’s encouraging because it suggests our schools and scientists will spearhead the change we need.
I hope that all of you will keep Africa’s urgent problems in mind while you go about your business.
I’m glad ARUA has assembled some of Africa’s brightest brains to figure out how to fix these issues.
‘I am pleased that the centres of excellence we established are gaining traction and maturing into thriving hubs of knowledge production,’ he said.
Attendees included (from left to right) Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, ARUA Board Chairman; Professor Folashade Ogunsola, University of Lagos Vice Chancellor; Mr. Tolani Sule, Lagos State Commissioner for Tertiary Education; Professor Ernest Aryeetey, ARUA Secretary-General; Professor Grace Otinwa, ARUA Local Organising Committee Chairperson; and Professor Adam Habib, Director, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Keynote speaker Prof. Adam Habib, Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, emphasised the importance of building a human resource base and a higher education infrastructure.
For this, he argues, universities across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America will need to develop a new kind of fair collaborations.
More so than the intellectual rigour of Northern universities, the inequity in our world is what motivates student migration.
Because of the damage it does to the worldwide academic community, as higher education leaders, shouldn’t we be speaking out against the current university model and the political economics of our education?
“I have learned of the many difficulties we face as international leaders in higher education, and I hope to draw attention to them and our shared duty.
To handle the demands of national development and the global challenges of the present, we must cultivate the expertise and networks of the future.
Important doctoral and research relationships are being established by ARUA and the Guild of European Universities.
ARUA is a part of a number of different pan-African research and educational collaborations. We’ve come a long way in the past five years.
However, “I fear that these projects are still on the edges of our routine operations and we are continuing at a rate that is too sluggish for the issues that we encounter,” he said.
Prof. Folashade Ogunsola, vice chancellor of the University of Lagos, said in her opening remarks that Africa possessed the potential to reach her full development, cultural, and peace potential and to create thriving, inclusive, and affluent societies.
She added that Africans believed they had what was needed to permanently alter the continent.
“We hereby vow to acting together towards establishing a thriving Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
We want a continent that is politically united behind the principles of Pan-Africanism and the dream of Africa’s resurrection, she added.
Ogunsola said that the ARUA has been instrumental in refocusing attention on the existential issue that has plagued the people of Africa for a long time.
She claims that the University of Lagos is committed to this vision and that the institution’s research and development culture places a premium on tackling pressing societal issues, especially within the context of international agreements, as part of a larger effort to position itself as a “future-ready” institution.
“The truth is that if Africa is going to change, it has to begin in the minds of its people.
The method we’ve traditionally taught isn’t working, as Achille Mbembe (2016) puts it. Some of our schools are still using antiquated teaching methods that emphasise outmoded types of knowledge.
“In order to put our educational institutions on the right track for the future of knowledge, we need to reimagine a classroom without walls in which we are all co-learners; a university that is capable of convening various publics in new forms of assemblies that become points of convergence and platforms for the redistribution of different kinds of knowledge.
“It is, therefore, my fervent view that universities have both educational and social functions.
“Knowledge institutions play crucial roles in horizon scanning, clarifying, and delineating limits for emerging technologies and new areas of investigation, as well as in coordinating evidence collection across disciplines and dissemination across sectors.
Together with stakeholders, policymakers, and the general public, they must use education and lobbying to increase awareness.
University students have the opportunity to create the future they want.
We need to “envision a desired future for Africa” and “define the measures required to produce a new generation of African thinkers and doers” to get there, she said.