Developed nations should invest in African universities

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pretoria - Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has urged developed nations to invest in rebuilding African universities.

Pandor, who was speaking at the Africa University Day Symposium, said strengthening higher education through active collaboration was an important strategy for enhancing human development and attaining regional integration in Africa.

"Developed nations must invest in rebuilding African universities, and provide funding for scientists to pursue postgraduate and postdoctoral work in Africa.

"In today's globalised and interconnected world, we encourage brain circulation through cultural and material incentives. We need to support Africa to become an attractive location to pursue high quality research," she said.

Four in ten African scientists live and work in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, according to the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), and this has crippled research development in Africa.

According to Pandor, there was also a sharp renewal in enrolment in sub-Saharan African countries.

"Enrolments in sub-Saharan African universities tripled between 1991 and 2005, expanding at an annual rate of 8.7 percent, which is one of the highest regional growth rates in the world.

"We also see a renewal in the growing number of African students looking for higher education elsewhere in Africa and abroad.

"Studies show that the international mobility of students has increased significantly over the past 10 to 15 years," she said.

The former Education Minister said not all universities can be research intensive, adding that if such institutions were to be built, the continent should look towards new and innovative partnerships to support their vision.