The Challenge of Change in Africa's Higher Education in the 21st Century

by Kenneth Kaoma Mwenda and Gerry Nkombo Muuka


The Challenge of Change in Africa’s Higher Education in the 21st Century brings the reader face to face with the mega challenges and key opportunities in Africa’s higher education sector in the twenty-first century. Mwenda and Muuka are two of Africa’s emergent scholars, with 20 published books and over 100 articles published in peer-reviewed journals between them as of 2008. Authors who are diverse in their knowledge and experience of the complexities of education in Africa join Mwenda and Muuka in this treatise, which traverses the higher education milieu on the continent from Cape Town in South Africa to Lagos in Nigeria. Stated simply, those who have long called for a new generation of scholars on education in Africa will find a healthy and refreshing answer in The Challenge of Change in Africa’s Higher Education in the 21st Century.

The motivation for this book was the editors’ recognition of gaps in the current understanding of higher education in Africa. The book has clear advantages and defining features over other books on higher education on the continent in the following respects:

• There is a need for strategic planning: Education is the common thread needed to transform economic, social, political, and cultural factors on the continent. This book makes the point that African universities can and should set strategic goals concerning at least five key areas: enhancement of curricula and learning, enhancement of faculty and staff, enhancement of students, and enhancement of external relations, and recognition including the need to seek and maintain national and international accreditations. Educational strategic plans must be enunciated, implemented, and “brought to life” through mission statements, values, major goals, objectives, strategies, responsible parties, financial and other resource strategies, and key performance indicators.

• Whether talking about the need for political commitment, the elimination of barriers to educational access, sustaining educational budgets, curricular reform, e-Learning and online programs, accountability, or faculty training, this book offers insights into how—in the higher education sector, at least—Africa can reclaim the twenty-first century. The need for an educated citizenry in Africa is obvious, increasing, and urgent.

• As Africa’s economies began a downward spiral in the 1980s that lasted well into the late 20th century, so did investment in education and the infrastructure needed to sustain knowledge generation. Reversing these trends and investing in Africa’s people both point to a central nexus: regeneration in Africa’s higher education sector. In utilizing and traversing a national, regional, and continental cross-functional perspective (premised on the belief that the higher education debate in Africa is necessarily multilevel, multifunctional, multidimensional, multinational, and global), the book provides a partial and practical answer to how the higher education sector might be both regenerated and sustained.

The Challenge of Change in Africa’s Higher Education in the 21st Century is a book written from and with twenty-first century realities, making it a significant addition to the continuing and urgent search for solutions to the continent’s development dilemma. It is therefore critical reading and research material for many stakeholders including students, professors, universities, and research libraries on the one hand and higher education ministries in Africa on the other. The role of international development agencies and non-governmental organizations towards enhancement of higher education in Africa cannot be overemphasized.

*Views expressed in the book are those of the editors/authors, and in no way represent the institutions they work for.


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