Universities plot the future

09 February 2006

Exchanging ideas: Vice-chancellor Prof Njabulo Ndebele chats with Caleb Maqubela of Unitech during a break at the AAU conference.

The African Gender Institute (AGI) coaxed Professor Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, a keynote speaker at the Association of African Universities' (AAU) conference in Cape Town, to address faculty and students at a small seminar at UCT last week. Working from findings in the two-volume African Universities in the Twenty-First Century, which he co-edited, Zeleza listed some 17 challenges that face African universities. These items, he said, should also feature prominently on the research agendas of African institutions. The topics spanned everything from HIV/AIDS to the swell of private universities on the continent, from the "massification" of higher learning to the role of universities in nation-building. These institutions will quickly have to come to grips with these challenges, said Zeleza, if they are to help the continent escape under-development. "The future for Africa without the university is inconceivable."

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