Looks like there was a lively canvassing of issues at the British Council higher education conference in Cape Town earlier this month. It’s difficult to know, though, from this article, how deeply the arguments penetrated – if you take what the report says at face value, much of the debate about the role of higher education in Africa, and its future, ploughed well-worn and rather barren furrows. Do we really still think that governments ‘choose’ ‘development paths’ – and do we honestly believe that these choices, such as they are, are between binary opposites -‘ manufacturing beneficiation’ versus ‘the knowledge economy,’ as if the one has nothing, or very little, to do with the other? As if universities, or higher education systems, should also be making a choice, between supporting one or supporting t’other? Not to mention the small problem of how you should choose, or what the consequences might be if you make the wrong call.
Seems to me we need to get beyond the Marxist-inflected development paradigms of the failed sixties and seventies, and think about how you connect universities to real economies, and actual enterprises.