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Title:Higher education as an African public sphere and the university as a site of resistance and claim of ownership for the national project
Author:Assiť-Lumumba, N'Dri T.ISNI
Year:2011
Periodical:Africa Development: A Quarterly Journal of CODESRIA (ISSN 0850-3907)
Volume:36
Issue:2
Pages:175-206
Language:English
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:higher education
universities
educational financing
Abstract:Given the colonial policy of exclusion of Africans from university education, the right of African states to build their national/public universities epitomized self-determination at independence. From its inception, the Western style of university that was conceived out of the colonial experience represented a special site for contention and affirmation of Africans to realize their national projects. In the context of globalization, international organizations and programmes such as the World Bank and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) have emerged as proxies of the old colonial powers with the same goal of influencing the policies that restrict or shape higher education in Africa. Key constituencies of African universities, namely students and teaching staff, have resisted such infringement on Africans' rights to university education and autonomy in determining their domestic policies. The present article analyses the evolution of the African university as a site for the continued struggle for self-determination, and trends in the financing of higher education. It argues that, in spite of the history of a few institutions in a handful of countries, the African university in the 21st century reflects essentially colonial relations. The subtle neocolonial framework of control embedded in multilateral and bilateral economic 'assistance', the destructive structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s, the ongoing global grip of GATS, neoliberal strategies that aim to marketize higher education on a global scale, all work against Africans' aim to build and maintain thriving and autonomous institutions of higher learning. The article addresses the fundamental question of the search for the public university, or the university with a public mission, that is the production of relevant knowledge, critical thinking and new paradigms, and methodologies to promote social progress. The approach is basically historical, assessing the actors and their transformations and mutations within the same reality of the structural inequality of power in the global system and various African responses through continued resistance and affirmation. Bibliogr., note, sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract, edited]
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