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24.11.2008 Education

Former VC Commends African Universities


African universities have been praised for their immeasurable contributions to the growth of their countries despite the numerous constraints they face.


'Although universities on this continent have a lot of challenges to contend with as far as numerations of lecturers and adequate funding for activities are concerned, they have managed to help tremendously in the human resource development of their countries', Prof Ivan Addei-Mensah, Former Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana, said yesterday in Accra.


The former Vice Chancellor who was speaking at the opening session of the Association of African Universities (AAU) conference, called on African universities to venture into credible developmental and research programmes 'in order to compete favourably on the international market'.


Prof Ivan Addei-Mensah cited poor salary structure for been the main cause of the brain drain from universities across the continent.


'In the early 1950s Ghana's university lecturers were paid better than ministers but around 1970, things took a different turn and that incited those who travelled outside to seek more knowledge not to come back as lecturers', he explained.


Prof Ivan Addei-Mensah noted that due to lack of funding, it takes some PhD students in Ghana about seven years to complete their courses instead of the stipulated three years and appealed for government funding for university activities.


He called on African universities to produce their own journals since that will help them to tell Africa's stories better.


He said the conference aims at identifying challenges facing African universities and the implications on development and finding solutions to them and how to produce good scholars.


The conference which is on the theme 'Developing and Retaining the Next Generation of Academics' attracted scholars of universities across Africa and other parts of the world and international participants.


The AUU, headquartered in Ghana, was formed in 1967 in Rabat, Morocco, with an initial membership of 34 after several consultations among executive heads of African universities at a UNESCO conference on higher education in Africa.


The association now has a membership of 212 from 45 African countries and its main objective include the apex organisation and principal forum for consultation, exchange of information and corporation among universities in Africa.