Educational Renaissance in Africa

Africa as a continent features more than 300 public universities. Unfortunately, these institutions are often under-funded so that teachers' salaries go unpaid, equipment needs are unmet and student access is limited. Increasingly, however, private institutions are helping to bring more postsecondary opportunities to Africans.

Africa education college postsecondary university higher ed

A Promising Trend in Higher Ed

The history of higher education in Africa has largely to this point been a narrative of unfulfilled promise. In the wake of decolonization, countries on the continent began to establish public universities that could serve as symbols of national identity and engines for economic development. Enduring political, social and economic challenges, however, have made it difficult for these institutions to fully manifest their potential.

A report from the Association of African Universities suggests that the establishment of more private institutions may be one effective way to enhance postsecondary education programs in countries across the continent. To date, more than 70 private colleges have been set up in Africa, including denominational, non-denominational, gender-exclusive, online and open higher ed schools.

Proponents of this trend suggest that private institutions can help to make a college education accessible to more Africans. They also suggest that these schools, financed by tuition and outside grants, are able to provide much-needed education opportunities not available in many public universities. Among these deficit areas: A lack of programs providing access to technology and infrastructural resources that can help students build practical, real-world skills.

Africa education college postsecondary university higher ed

Ashesi University College

Ashesi University College, located in Accra, Ghana, is one example of an institution offering just the type of academic programs that advocates suggest is needed to spur scholastic achievement and economic development. The liberal arts college, founded as a private institution in 2002, started out with a class of 30 students. Today the school has more than 450 students with plans to expand enrollment to 600.

Ashesi University College is dedicated to providing students with practical training that will allow them to pursue employment in their respective disciplines. Individuals enrolled in computer science programs, for example, have access to modern facilities and equipment that allows them to put abstract computing theory into practice - the curriculum incorporates hands-on projects that build programming, networking and other computing skills..

Operated without public funds, Ashesi features annual tuition rates that range from $10 to $5,000. Many students are recipients of private grants, including monies collected by a college foundation based in Seattle. These financing avenues - which allow the school to provide its innovative educational programming in contemporary facilities - are one reason advocates believe private institutions are able to provide opportunities unique from those found at cash-strapped public universities. Many believe this market-driven approach to postsecondary learning is the best way to fuel an educational renaissance in Africa.

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