South Africa’s former President, Thabo Mbeki has called for the ‘right mind-set’ to bring about important changes in African universities.
Addressing the Times Higher Education Africa Summit at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday, Mbeki said the the summit should look at moving Africa’s universities forward.
“One of the major tasks our universities must undertake is advocacy to convince the so-called political class in Africa that they are indeed situated at the centre of the African development agenda and therefore need new investment significantly to improve their capacity to discharge their responsibilities relating to that development agenda,” added Mbeki.
Gauteng Premier, David Makhura added that the inaugural Africa University summit that brings under one roof scholars and distinguished persons from sectors across the region should look at new and innovative ways of moving universities forward.
He called for self-definition and propagation of African universities as well as defining their role and place through Africa’s “Agenda 2063”.
Africa’s “Agenda 2063” seeks to learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the immediate and medium term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years.
“African Universities should locate themselves within the 2063 agenda. Universities should explore areas of infrastructural investments in universities as to ensure regional development.”
Makhura also called for strategic alliances between industry, labour and universities.
“We have to do everything to place institutions of higher education at the centre of our development agenda.”
“Africa’s prospects remain positive,” said Makhura adding that this was despite a slump in commodities.
The vice chancellor of Zimbabwe’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Lindela Ndlovu said struggling economies are facing a massive brain drain and this was affecting university standards of such countries.
He said Zimbabwe, for example was losing its intellectuals to neighbouring countries and the international community.