Dr Paulos Nyirenda
paulos at sdnp.org.mw
Mon May 21 07:58:56 SAST 2007
Pardom me BUT what is this doing on this list? Regards, Paulos
On 20 May 2007 at 13:51, Dr Yassin Mshana wrote:
> Thank you AR for sharing the article.
> It is true and the most scarring thing is, is there a capacity
> (anyhow) to make the Governments give the required attention their
> universities? The role of the diaspora in obvious now. The Diaspora
> is the 5th Region of Africa and can help out - every little help
> On 20/05/07, Anne-Rachel Inne <anne-rachel.inne at icann.org> wrote:
> The New York Times
> May 20, 2007
> Africa's Storied Colleges, Jammed and Crumbling
> By LYDIA POLGREEN
> DAKAR, Senegal, May 19 - Thiany Dior usually rises before dawn,
> tiptoeing carefully among thin foam mats laid out on the floor as she
> leaves the cramped dormitory room she shares with half a dozen other
> women. It was built for two.
> In the vast auditorium at the law school at Cheikh Anta Diop
> she secures a seat two rows from the front, two hours before class. If
> she sat too far back, she would not hear the professor's lecture over
> the two tinny speakers, and would be more likely to join the 70
> who fail their first- or second-year exams at the university.
> Those who arrive later perch on cinderblocks in the aisles, or strain
> hear from the gallery above. By the time class starts, 2,000 young
> bodies crowd the room in a muffled din of shuffling paper, throat
> clearing and jostling. Outside, dozens of students, early arrivals for
> the next class, mill about noisily.
> "I cannot say really we are all learning, but we are trying," said Ms.
> Dior. "We are too many students."
> Africa's best universities, the grand institutions that educated a
> revolutionary generation of nation builders and statesmen, doctors and
> engineers, writers and intellectuals, are collapsing. It is partly a
> self-inflicted crisis of mismanagement and neglect, but it is also a
> result of international development policies that for decades have
> favored basic education over higher learning even as a population
> explosion propels more young people than ever toward the already
> strained institutions.
> The decrepitude is forcing the best and brightest from countries
> Africa to seek their education and fortunes abroad and depriving
> of nations of the homegrown expertise that could lift millions out of
> The Commission for Africa, a British government research organization,
> said in a 2005 report that African universities were in a "state of
> crisis" and were failing to produce the professionals desperately
> to develop the poorest continent. Far from being a tool of social
> mobility, the repository of a nation's hopes for the future, Africa's
> universities have instead become warehouses for a generation of young
> people for whom society has little use and who can expect to be just
> poor as their uneducated parents.
> "Without universities there is no hope of progress, but they have been
> allowed to crumble," said Penda Mbow, a historian and labor activist
> Cheikh Anta Diop who has struggled to improve conditions for students
> and professors. "We are throwing away a whole generation."
> As a result, universities across Africa have become hotbeds of
> discontent, occupying a dangerous place at the intersection of
> and crime. In Ivory Coast, student union leaders played a large role
> stirring up xenophobia that led to civil war. In Nigeria, elite
> have been overrun by violent criminal gangs. Those gangs have hired
> themselves out to politicians, contributing to the deterioration of
> electoral process there.
> In Senegal, the university has been racked repeatedly by sometimes
> violent strikes by students seeking improvements in their living
> conditions and increases in the tiny stipends for living expenses.
> Students have refused to attend classes and set up burning barricades
> a central avenue that runs past the university.
> In the early days, postcolonial Africa had few institutions as
> and fully developed as its universities. The University of Ibadan in
> southwest Nigeria, the intellectual home of the Nobel Prize-winning
> writer Wole Soyinka, was regarded in 1960 as one of the best
> universities in the British Commonwealth. Makerere University in
> was considered the Harvard of Africa, and it trained a whole
> of postcolonial leaders, including Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.
> And in Senegal, Cheikh Anta Diop, then known as the University of
> drew students from across francophone Africa and transformed them into
> doctors, engineers and lawyers whose credentials were considered equal
> to those of their French counterparts.
> The experience of students like Ms. Dior could not be further from
> of men like Ousmane Camara, a former president of Senegal's highest
> court, who attended the same law school in the late 1950s. A cracked,
> yellowing photograph from 1957 shows the entire law school student
> in a single frame, fewer than 100 students.
> "We lived in spacious rooms, with more than enough for each to have
> own," Mr. Camara said. "We had a minibus that drove us to and from
> The young men in the photo went on to do great things: Mr. Camara's
> classmate Abdou Diouf became Senegal's second president. Others became
> top government officials and businessmen, shaping the nation's
> after it won independence from France in 1960.
> Today, nearly 60,000 students are crammed on a campus with just 5,000
> dormitory beds. Renting a room in Dakar is so expensive that students
> pack themselves into tiny rooms by the half dozen.
> Firmin Manga, a third-year English student from the southern region of
> Casamance, was lucky enough to be assigned a cramped, airless single
> room. But six of his friends were not so fortunate, so he invited them
> to share. In a space barely wide enough for two twin beds, the young
> have squeezed four foam mattresses, which serve as beds, desks, dining
> tables and couches. Their clothes were neatly packed into a single
> closet, a dozen pairs of shoes carefully balanced on a ledge above the
> "We have to live like this," Mr. Manga said, perched on his bed late
> "Two will sleep here," he said, placing his palm on a ratty scrap of
> foam. "Two over there, and two over there. Then one more mattress is
> underneath my bed."
> Once the last mattress is laid out there is no floor space left. Mr.
> Manga works on his thesis, a treatise comparing the grammar of his
> native Dioula language with English, early in the morning, before any
> else wakes up.
> "That is my quiet time alone," he said.
> The graffiti-scarred dormitories, crisscrossed by clotheslines, look
> more like housing projects for the poor than rooms for the country's
> brightest youths. A $12 million renovation of the library modernized
> what had been a musty, crowded outpost on campus into a modern
> with Internet access. But technology does not help with its most basic
> problem: it still only has 1,700 chairs. Students study in stairwells
> and sprawled in corners.
> In a chemistry lab in the science department, students take turns
> carrying out basic experiments with broken beakers and pipettes.
> Equally frustrated are the professors, many of whom could pursue
> abroad but choose to remain in Senegal. Alphonse Tiné, a professor of
> chemistry, said he struggled to balance his research with the demands
> teaching thousands of students.
> "If I went abroad maybe I would have more salary, better equipment,
> fewer students," Mr. Tiné said. "I studied on a government scholarship
> abroad, so I felt I owed my country to stay. But it is very hard."
> Mr. Tiné, 58, plans to stay in Senegal for the rest of his career. But
> many educated Africans will not. The International Organization for
> Migration estimates that Africa has lost 20,000 educated professionals
> every year since 1990. Those who can afford it send their children
> abroad for college. Some of those who cannot push their sons and even
> their daughters to migrate, often illegally.
> The disarray of Africa's universities did not happen by chance. In the
> 1960s, universities were seen as the incubator of the vanguard that
> would drive development in the young nations of newly liberated
> and postcolonial governments spent lavishly on campuses, research
> facilities, scholarships and salaries for academics.
> But corruption and mismanagement led to the economic collapses that
> swept much of Africa in the 1970s, and universities were among the
> institutions to suffer. As idealistic postcolonial governments gave
> to more cynical and authoritarian ones, universities, with their
> academic freedoms, democratic tendencies and elitist airs, became a
> When the World Bank and International Monetary Fund came to bail out
> African governments with their economic reforms - a bitter cocktail
> included currency devaluation, opening of markets and privatization -
> higher education was usually low on the list of priorities. Fighting
> poverty required basic skills and literacy, not doctoral students. In
> the mid-1980s nearly a fifth of World Bank's education spending
> worldwide went to higher education. A decade later, it had dwindled to
> just 7 percent.
> Meanwhile, welcome money flooded into primary and secondary education.
> But it set up a time bomb: as more young people got a basic education,
> more wanted to go to college. In 1984, just half of Senegal's children
> went to primary school, but 20 years later more than 90 percent do.
> And more of those children have gone on to high school: Africa has the
> world's highest growth rate of high school attendance. Abdou Salam
> rector of the Cheikh Anta Diop, said 9,000 students earned a
> baccalaureate in Senegal in 2000, entitling them to university
> admission. By 2006 there were more than twice that. The university
> cannot handle the influx. Its budget is $32 million, less than $600
> student. That money must also maintain a 430-acre campus, pay salaries
> and finance research.
> Even those lucky enough to graduate will have difficulty finding a job
> in their struggling economies. As few as one third of African
> graduates find work, according to the Association of African
> Governments and donors in some countries are starting to spend more on
> higher education. The World Bank chipped in for Cheikh Anta Diop's
> library renovation, and a coalition of foundations called the
> Partnership for Higher Education in Africa has pledged $200 million to
> help African universities over the next five years.
> Fatou Kiné Camara, a law professor and the daughter of Mr. Camara, the
> former judge, said she felt the frustration of her students as she
> struggled to teach a class of thousands. When the students cannot hear
> her over the loudspeaker, they hurl vulgar insults, a taboo in a
> that prides itself on decorum and respect for elders.
> "They are angry, and I cannot blame them," she said. "The country has
> nothing to offer them, and their education is worthless. It doesn't
> prepare them for anything."
> Attempts to reduce the student population by admitting fewer students
> are seen as political suicide - student unions play a big role in
> elections, and the country's leaders are fearful of widespread
> discontent among the educated youth. Senegal has created new
> universities in provincial capitals like Saint Louis and Ziguinchor,
> few students want to attend them because they are new and untested,
> the government has not forced the issue.
> "They fear us because we are the young, and the future belongs to us,"
> said Babacar Sohkna, a student union leader. "But where is our future?
> We are just waiting here for poverty."
> Elizabeth Dickinson contributed reporting.
> Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
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