Media Fuels Negative Perception of Africa Education System-AAU laments  


…As It Launches 50 Years Anniversary

The Association of African Universities (AAU) yesterday expressed its resentment on negative reportage by the African media on higher educational institutions on the continent, saying its line of reporting and ranking universities is a net negative.

According to the association, more often than not, the African media failed to highlight the good aspects of the higher education institution system, but always interested in the bad and negative stories, which sought to suggest that education in Africa is of poor quality.

Professor Mohammed Salifu, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) of Ghana, expressed the sentiments during a press briefing to launch the association’s 50th anniversary celebration in Accra.

The four-day Golden Jubilee celebrations which will also witness the association’s 14th General Conference scheduled for 5-8 June, this year, has its 300 registered members across Africa attending.

He stated that the higher education system on the continent was not bad as the media portrays it on both local and international platforms, adding, ” our universities are even far better than those outside but the media failed to highlight those aspects.”

A new study from the University of Missouri released this week suggests that black athletes are treated differently than their white counterparts in the media, a fact that comes as no surprise to many whose lives and livelihoods revolve around sports.

Prof. Salifu found out that not only were more stories written about the western system of  education as being overall better than their African counterparts, but those African universities were underrepresented in academic and research stories.

He noted that overall, “85 percent of the stories involving Africa higher education had a negative tone, while painting those Western systems as the best and you can count over 200 Ghanaians in one university in China.”

He, therefore, called on the media in Africa and Ghana in particular to help erase the negative quantitative evidence of disparities in how the media cover and stereotype African universities as inferior, stating, “it is affecting African Universities credibilities” and development as a whole.

The Executive Secretary of NCTE said government is working hard, through the council and in collaboration with all institutions of higher education, to streamline some of the programmes being run in institutions of higher education.

In addition to that, Prof. Salifu said, the council, in conjunction with institutions of higher education, is working out modalities to introduce what he termed, ” gross enrollment ratio” to reduce graduate unemployment, as that system will help direct students and lecturers to specific areas of learning.

The NCTE boss, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah, however, assured AAU of the Government of Ghana’s continued support to realize its objectives as an association which is aimed at promoting higher quality education on the African continent.

Professor Etienne Ehile, Secretary General of AAU, who briefed the media on the twin programmes, a 50th Anniversary and 14 General Conference of the association, said  the association has provided a platform for research, reflection, consultation, debates, cooperation and collaboration on issues pertaining to higher education.

In addition, he noted, it has provided a range of services to its members and served African higher education in a variety of ways, established and increased its role in the five sub-regions of Africa.

Prof. Ehile told journalists that the association possesses a unique capacity to convene higher education institutional leaders and policy-makers from all parts of the continent to discuss key issues related to African higher education and development.

“The general conference and our golden jubilee will provide leadership in the identification of emerging issues and support for debating them and facilitating appropriate follow-up action by its members, partners and other stakeholders,” he stated.

He noted that, the  four-days programme, which is under the theme, “AAU at 50, Achievement, Challenges  and Prospects for Sustainable Development in Africa,” will bring together over 500 participants from the continent to deliberate and brainstorm on its vision to be the lead advocate for higher education in Africa.

Since the formation of AAU, he said, it has supported and continue to provide support for its member institutions in meeting national, continental and global needs, as a way of enhancing the quality and relevance of higher education in Africa and strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development.

He therefore called on stakeholders, especially vice chancellors and heads of institutions of higher education across the continent to participate in the 14th General Conference and the 50th Anniversary Celebrations to share ideas on how best to improve and promote African education.

In a remarks, Prof. Dominic Donwini Kuupore, former Vice Chancellor of University of Cape Coast and Board Member of NCTE, acknowledged that the current education system, though produces quality graduates, there was the need for support from industries and companies to enhance the efforts.

He said, the institutions produce the graduates in fields where they appeared more competent, but it behooves industries to take it upon themselves to add value to what they need from the graduates.

For instance, Prof Kuupore said, a fresh graduate with Biochemistry will need further orientation to work in a factory that is into Biofuel production to make him or her a complete product for the job.

He however reiterated the need for government and stakeholders to contribute in ensuring that the quality of higher education we need as a continent is achieved collectively.

Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana, on his part, pointed out that there was the need for drastic reforms in the current curriculums in our universities to meet the job market, saying, “the general economic trend does not allow the programmes being run to produce quality graduates as expected.”

In his view, Africa would never develop if we do not make effort to move from the reality that the world is becoming a global village where education is no more centered but rationalized to meet the trend of society.

Prof. Orlqndo Quilambo, Vice President of AAU and Vice Chancellor of Mozambique University, expressed gratitude to the government and people of Ghana for the immense contribution in making the AAU come to reality by providing an ultramodern office facility.

Other officials, including Prof. Osei K. Darkwa, President of Ghana Technology University College and Mrs. Sheila Naah-Boamah, Executive Secretary of National Board of Professional and Technical Examination (NABPTEX), in separate remarks, called on stakeholders to contribute to the promotion of higher quality education on the continent.

They also expressed their respective institutions’ unflinching support to AAU to achieve its objectives to improve leadership, institutional management and the policy environment of African higher education.



Source: By Felix Engsalige Nyaaba


The Republic News Online

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