Re: [AfrICANN-discuss] Africa’s Storied Colleges, Jammed and Crumbling
Dr Yassin Mshana
ymshana2003 at gmail.com
Mon May 21 11:31:02 SAST 2007
I think it is worth knowing what is happening - it may look to be out of
place but it is still important that is why AR kindly shared with us. Sorry.
On 21/05/07, Dr Paulos Nyirenda <paulos at sdnp.org.mw> wrote:
> 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
> > helps.
> > Cheers
> > Yassin
> > 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
> > 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
> > University,
> > she secures a seat two rows from the front, two hours before class.
> > she sat too far back, she would not hear the professor's lecture
> > the two tinny speakers, and would be more likely to join the 70
> > percent
> > who fail their first- or second-year exams at the university.
> > Those who arrive later perch on cinderblocks in the aisles, or
> > to
> > 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
> > the next class, mill about noisily.
> > "I cannot say really we are all learning, but we are trying," said
> > Dior. "We are too many students."
> > Africa's best universities, the grand institutions that educated a
> > revolutionary generation of nation builders and statesmen, doctors
> > 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
> > across
> > Africa to seek their education and fortunes abroad and depriving
> > dozens
> > of nations of the homegrown expertise that could lift millions out
> > poverty.
> > The Commission for Africa, a British government research
> > said in a 2005 report that African universities were in a "state of
> > crisis" and were failing to produce the professionals desperately
> > needed
> > to develop the poorest continent. Far from being a tool of social
> > mobility, the repository of a nation's hopes for the future,
> > universities have instead become warehouses for a generation of
> > people for whom society has little use and who can expect to be just
> > as
> > poor as their uneducated parents.
> > "Without universities there is no hope of progress, but they have
> > allowed to crumble," said Penda Mbow, a historian and labor activist
> > at
> > Cheikh Anta Diop who has struggled to improve conditions for
> > 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
> > politics
> > and crime. In Ivory Coast, student union leaders played a large role
> > in
> > stirring up xenophobia that led to civil war. In Nigeria, elite
> > schools
> > have been overrun by violent criminal gangs. Those gangs have hired
> > themselves out to politicians, contributing to the deterioration of
> > the
> > 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
> > on
> > a central avenue that runs past the university.
> > In the early days, postcolonial Africa had few institutions as
> > venerable
> > 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
> > Uganda
> > was considered the Harvard of Africa, and it trained a whole
> > generation
> > of postcolonial leaders, including Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.
> > And in Senegal, Cheikh Anta Diop, then known as the University of
> > Dakar,
> > drew students from across francophone Africa and transformed them
> > doctors, engineers and lawyers whose credentials were considered
> > to those of their French counterparts.
> > The experience of students like Ms. Dior could not be further from
> > that
> > of men like Ousmane Camara, a former president of Senegal's highest
> > court, who attended the same law school in the late 1950s. A
> > yellowing photograph from 1957 shows the entire law school student
> > body
> > in a single frame, fewer than 100 students.
> > "We lived in spacious rooms, with more than enough for each to have
> > its
> > own," Mr. Camara said. "We had a minibus that drove us to and from
> > class."
> > The young men in the photo went on to do great things: Mr. Camara's
> > classmate Abdou Diouf became Senegal's second president. Others
> > top government officials and businessmen, shaping the nation's
> > fortunes
> > after it won independence from France in 1960.
> > Today, nearly 60,000 students are crammed on a campus with just
> > dormitory beds. Renting a room in Dakar is so expensive that
> > pack themselves into tiny rooms by the half dozen.
> > Firmin Manga, a third-year English student from the southern region
> > Casamance, was lucky enough to be assigned a cramped, airless single
> > room. But six of his friends were not so fortunate, so he invited
> > to share. In a space barely wide enough for two twin beds, the young
> > men
> > have squeezed four foam mattresses, which serve as beds, desks,
> > tables and couches. Their clothes were neatly packed into a single
> > closet, a dozen pairs of shoes carefully balanced on a ledge above
> > doorway.
> > "We have to live like this," Mr. Manga said, perched on his bed late
> > one
> > night.
> > "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
> > 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
> > building
> > with Internet access. But technology does not help with its most
> > problem: it still only has 1,700 chairs. Students study in
> > 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
> > careers
> > abroad but choose to remain in Senegal. Alphonse Tiné, a professor
> > chemistry, said he struggled to balance his research with the
> > of
> > 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
> > 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.
> > many educated Africans will not. The International Organization for
> > Migration estimates that Africa has lost 20,000 educated
> > every year since 1990. Those who can afford it send their children
> > abroad for college. Some of those who cannot push their sons and
> > their daughters to migrate, often illegally.
> > The disarray of Africa's universities did not happen by chance. In
> > 1960s, universities were seen as the incubator of the vanguard that
> > would drive development in the young nations of newly liberated
> > Africa,
> > 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
> > first
> > institutions to suffer. As idealistic postcolonial governments gave
> > way
> > to more cynical and authoritarian ones, universities, with their
> > academic freedoms, democratic tendencies and elitist airs, became a
> > nuisance.
> > When the World Bank and International Monetary Fund came to bail out
> > African governments with their economic reforms - a bitter cocktail
> > that
> > 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.
> > the mid-1980s nearly a fifth of World Bank's education spending
> > worldwide went to higher education. A decade later, it had dwindled
> > just 7 percent.
> > Meanwhile, welcome money flooded into primary and secondary
> > But it set up a time bomb: as more young people got a basic
> > more wanted to go to college. In 1984, just half of Senegal's
> > 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
> > world's highest growth rate of high school attendance. Abdou Salam
> > Sall,
> > 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
> > per
> > student. That money must also maintain a 430-acre campus, pay
> > and finance research.
> > Even those lucky enough to graduate will have difficulty finding a
> > in their struggling economies. As few as one third of African
> > university
> > graduates find work, according to the Association of African
> > Universities.
> > Governments and donors in some countries are starting to spend more
> > 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
> > help African universities over the next five years.
> > Fatou Kiné Camara, a law professor and the daughter of Mr. Camara,
> > former judge, said she felt the frustration of her students as she
> > struggled to teach a class of thousands. When the students cannot
> > her over the loudspeaker, they hurl vulgar insults, a taboo in a
> > society
> > that prides itself on decorum and respect for elders.
> > "They are angry, and I cannot blame them," she said. "The country
> > 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
> > 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,
> > but
> > few students want to attend them because they are new and untested,
> > and
> > the government has not forced the issue.
> > "They fear us because we are the young, and the future belongs to
> > said Babacar Sohkna, a student union leader. "But where is our
> > We are just waiting here for poverty."
> > Elizabeth Dickinson contributed reporting.
> > Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
> > _______________________________________________
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> > --
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> > Maitama
> > Abuja
> > Nigeria
> > Skype: yassin mshana
> > Mobile: +234-803 970 5117
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