Africa is ushering into an era that most observers and pundits are predicting will determine its destiny as the continent of the future. But to fulfill this promised bright future, the continent has to come to terms with its education and training systems that are yet to fully shed the weight of its colonial legacy and its own tribulations as a relatively new political and economic entity and player in the world arena (Africa Union Commission). The observation of the Africa Union is not isolated. In every sphere of African life, there is urgent need for reforms that reflects the ambitions and aspirations of the African people since the responsibility of our development is ours to undertake. This assertion is supported by Mkandawire & Soludo (1999 in their work Our continent, our future: African perspectives on structural adjustment. their words aptly captured below summarizes the need for Africa to take responsibility of development in every sphere of her life.
“History and experience have thought us that, development is a complex process and that no one has all the answers. At the turn of the millennium, Africans must take a long and hard look at their development problems because in the end, only Africans can develop Africa”.
This assertion gives impetus for more urgency in the quest for the AU to achieve a strategy that carries the ambitions and aspirations of the African in the area of education. It is therefore not out of place that, the AU in its bid to “create” a new African citizen who will be an effective change agent for the continent’s sustainable development as envisioned by the AU’s Agenda 2063, developed a comprehensive ten-year Continental Education Strategy for Africa.
The Union asserts that, the strategy is driven by the desire to set up a “qualitative system of education and training to provide the African continent with efficient human resources adapted to African core values and therefore capable of achieving the vision and ambitions of the African Union. Those responsible for the implementation of the strategy will be assigned to “ reorient Africa’s education and training systems to meet the knowledge, competencies, skills, innovation and creativity required to nurture African core values and promote sustainable development at the national, sub-regional and continental levels”(AU). It is this opining of the African Union that has witnessed a myriad of applauds by academic stakeholders while others have critiqued the Union from diverse perspectives. Whiles the strategy seem feasible and achievable, it is my opinion that, with the current incidence of academic corruption in Africa’s higher education, the strategy may be undermined especially so, when the human resource expected to reorient the educational sector are themselves caught in the web of academically corrupt practices. Whiles this paper will support this claims in subsequent paragraphs, it is to be noted that, the AU outlined principles to achieve the strategy.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF THE STRATEGY
The Africa Union asserts that, the achievement of this strategic plan will be hinged largely on the 6 principles; Knowledge societies called for by Agenda 2063 will be driven by skilled human capital; Holistic, inclusive and equitable education with good conditions for lifelong learning is sine qua non for sustainable development; Good governance, leadership and accountability in education management are paramount; Harmonized education and training systems are essential for the realization of intra-Africa mobility and academic integration through regional cooperation; Quality and relevant education, training and research are core for scientific and technological innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship; A healthy mind in a healthy body -physically and socio-psychologically- fit and well fed learners. The first of the principles identified by the AU is that of knowledge and human capital. It gives the impression that, much credence is given to human capital as a key driver of the strategy. It is further in line with the above that the African human resource in the area of higher education need to be without blemish in the area of academically corrupt practices in order to achieve the strategy.
Worth noting is that, the identified principles are expected to be backed by Strong political will to reform and boost the education and training sector; Peaceful and secure environment; Gender equity, equality and sensitivity throughout the education and training systems; Resource mobilization with emphasis on domestic resources; Strengthen institutional capacity building through Good governance, transparency and accountability; A coalition of actors to enable a credible participatory and solid partnership between government, civil society and the private sector; Orientation and support at different levels and types of training and the creation and continuous development of a conducive learning environment.
The strategy seem to have gained publicity and has seen growing evidences in the higher education space in Africa with organizations like the Association of Africa Universities, Trust Africa, Africa Quality Assurance Network, UNESCO amongst other working in key thematic areas of the strategy to ensure successful of the strategy by the estimated period ( 2025). Much as evidences exist on the strides made by these organizations, it is important to establish that, the catalyst to every society especially in achieving its blue print, it its human resource. It is therefore to be applauded that the AU aptly captured this in the strategy. However, the human resource in Africa’s higher education expected to drive the change agenda seem to be the very threat to the agenda. Recent media reports suggest that, most academics are involved in practices that can aptly be described as dishonest and thus have tendencies of undermining the very strategy that they are expected to fulfil. In Ghana for instance, a recent audit by the National Council for Tertiary Education suggests that, most institution of higher learning are not ensuring faculty are holding certificates required for their continual employment in the tertiary space. Reports on most of the intuitions as peer the Technical Universities has shown that, a number of faculty do not have the requisite degrees for teaching and in the case of non-teaching faculty, some do not have the certificates to merit the ranks they occupy in the universities. This revelation though a product of the Ghana audit, may not be inconsistent with other institutions of learning within the African region. It is my opinion that, if the Continental Educations Strategy for Africa would be achieved, it will be reliant on the output of Africa’s own human resource. With the rising incidence of academic dishonest practices, the AU is probable not to achieve the targets sets by the year 2025 as a result of academic fraud. Worth noting is the assertion that, the current practice is not only compromising the current human resource of the continent but future HR as well since faculty found guilty of these practices mentor students who also grow in that stride.
MITIGATING MEASURES TO THE RISING MENACE OF ACADEMIC CORRUPTION TO ACHIEVE CESA 2025
To ensure the Continental Education Strategy for Africa is achieved, a lot of efforts must be made, that the quality of human resource in Africa’s higher education space is not compromised. To achieve this, intuitions of higher learning must make certain that, all faculty that lack the requisite skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to be within the university system are either given training to upgrade their knowledge and or certification or given the option to move into industries that reflect their strengths and qualifications.
Another factor evidenced in Africa’s higher education space that has continually undermined the possible achievement of CESA (2025) is the upsurge of sex for marks, which comes with it the attendant possibility of African institutions of higher learning churning out graduates who lack the skills to fit into the fulfilment of agenda 2063.
Also, for the AU to achieve the CESA 20125, there is need for a holistic application of standardized guidelines and enforcement of same by all accreditation bodies of African universities, taking clue from what has happened elsewhere and that which is currently being undertaken by the National Council for Tertiary Education (Ghana)