By Moses Hategeka
A few years back, I wrote an article titled, “Universities/Varsity Curricula Must be Practical” that was published in, The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most popular and biggest Newspaper, and was as well republished in various other Newspapers and Magazines in other African countries.
In that article, I argued that, theory based and powered curricula as administered in most African universities, cannot spur a critical mass of skilled graduates needed to transform African economies and called, for its total overhaul.
In the same article, I called upon, African governments to step up funding to their universities and compel them to overhaul cramming based learning and adopt research powered learning.
Research powered learning especially in the experimental sciences curricula, makes students, to gain knowledge of producing inventions, innovations, and ground breaking technologies, which if backed by supportive conducive governments’ policies, can be a catalyst, in spurring industrial and entrepreneurial development in African countries. It also enables the students from social sciences and humanities field, to gain interdisciplinary knowledge, that in turn makes them, critical thinkers, capable of objectively analyzing public policies and other issues at hand, and provide remedies where inadequacies exists.
Africa’s skyrocketing unemployment problem, especially youth unemployment that is affecting millions of youth on the continent, is a manifestation, of the failure of governments and universities, to harmonize their visions, into one complimentary vision of finding solutions to the challenges facing the continent.
Universities are supposed to be the center of knowledge production and dissemination where learners are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills that makes them capable of solving societal problems and meeting societal needs. Are African universities serving this purpose fully?
Globally, research is a chief driver of new knowledge and innovation crucial for spurring sustainable industrial and entrepreneurial development, but how much of the research have African universities done or are doing that have translated or are translating into industrial commercial usable products? Why is it that, African industries are majorly powered by imported technologies despite the fact that we have engineering and technology faculties at our universities?
In the medical field, why is that all the health complications that requires specialized surgeries are mainly done outside Africa with those unable to afford it dying miserably despite us having medical schools/faculties at our universities? Still in medical sector, why is that the few molecular biologists in our countries are unable to use computerized technologies to read and analyze the genomes of viruses and only do so after being subjected to re-training by experts trained from abroad?
African governments are supposed to apportion a good percentage of their national budgets for research development, if research, is to result into implementable policies and industrial usable products. But wait a minute! Looking at countries’ national Budgets, how much money percentage wise does African countries allocate to their institutions for research development?
Governments are also supposed to create robust favorable environment and opportunities for its employable citizens not only at national level, but also at international level, by incorporating in their foreign policies and international relations, the issue of systematically and legally transporting their employable labor to other countries where it is needed through bilateral relations, like what Cuba, Russia, China, and India have done and are doing. What are African countries doing in this regard?
For example, on realizing that, it cannot employ, all its trained Doctors, Cuba, decided to integrate medicine as a fundamental element in its foreign policy and international relations, as thus, eighty percent of Doctors and health professionals in Venezuela, are Cubans, send there by the Cuban government, on bilateral arrangement with Venezuelan government, where by Cuba, supplies medical workers in return for oil and gas supplies from Venezuelan government. Cuba also has hundreds of Doctors working on bilateral arrangement in other Latin American and African countries. Russia, India, and China, who produces, highest number of technology specialists and professionals in life and experimental sciences also does the same.
To the Chinese government, where there is Chinese capital and trade, there should be Chinese labor. Many people keep on wondering, why there is large presence of Chinese engineers, technicians, and traders, especially allover in African countries and other developing nations, forgetting that, transportation of labor to foreign countries, is a cardinal part of Chinese foreign policy and international relations. In fact, all the major infrastructural development projects in Africa, like major road high ways, Dams, buildings and industries construction, have been and are being executed by Chinese supported companies and labor
To overcome, the waves of rural- urban migration tied unemployment, and curb horrible unemployment figures among its science and technology specialists, the Chinese government, developed an economic diversification policy aligned, to urbanization, industrialization, and transformation of rural locations, into production centers, which involved relocating major industries from already congested industrial centers to rural areas, thus expanding industrial base and creating new towns and employment in the process, Wuxi and Nantong for example, owe their transformation from rural to major industrial centers to this policy.
In sum, universities’ curricula must be research derived and interdisciplinary powered, for the graduates to translate the acquired knowledge and skills, into industrial usable products and attaining critical thinking skills, capable of finding solutions to the societal challenges and needs and African governments must ably fund their varsities for this to happen in addition to putting in place, the implementable policies that stimulate entire spectrum
Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer