Universities in Africa: Working on Excellence for Whom? Reflections on Teaching, Research, and Outreach Activities at African Universities

Jacques Zeelen


This article discusses the current dynamics at African universities concerning the quality of teaching, the role of research, the level of community outreach, and the position of higher education in the educational sector as a whole. Points of reference are experiences at the University of the North in South Africa as well as experiences at universities in other African countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Ghana.

One of our central conclusions is that the system of education in Africa in general, and higher education in particular, is highly dysfunctional, especially in terms of wasted human capacity as well as financial resources. African higher education institutions cannot close their eyes to the immense skills shortage and the frightening percentages of (youth-) unemployment. This leads to the recommendation that the responsibilities of a university concerning the generation of relevant new knowledge, preparing students adequately as active citizens for the challenges in the labour market, contributing to the development of communities, and fostering critical thinking need to be given high priority.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v1n2p157


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International Journal of Higher Education
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