Nelson Mandela rightly put that: “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”
Pan-African leaders such as Mandela, Kwame Nkurumah, among others advocated for education. Since then, the continent has experienced vast development spanning the banking and medicine, agriculture, to technology fields among others.
Dating back the colonial times, more Africans were encouraged and even funded to study abroad, an effort that brought positive and negative impact on the continent in equal measure.
Worth noting is the fact that the first university in the world was African - Al Karaouine, in Fez, Morocco (859 AD). The institution was founded by an African woman. It was not until 229 years later, that the first European University was built at Bologna in 1088 AD.
So, where did we lose to the Western education? The answers lie in the disruption brought about by slavery, colonialism and destruction from the 15th century on. Additionally, insufficient resources have forced African students to seek education abroad.
Commendable it may be, however, often African graduates settle abroad after studies. The education immigration leaves Africa deprived of innovative and vibrant youth to drive the economy forward.
Thierry Sauzier, the chief executive of Medine Group told the African Report: “There is a huge shortage of skills in Africa and a real problem with talent-poaching.” Mr Sauzier said the shortage was due to educating Africans in Europe or the US. Often, most of the graduates settle abroad after. Medine Group is building an education hub of the Mauritian campus of the UK’s Middlesex University.
One way to harness its vast human and natural resources in the direction needed, Pan-African icon, Kwame said is “to allow the African genius full expression”.
Educating African students locally will benefit the continent more. To support Africa to close the skills shortage, western universities are creating partnerships to offer quality education in the continent through satellite campuses.
South Africa is a major beneficiary of such partnerships which has seen many African students heading South of Africa for further studies. Education in the regional campuses is not only cheaper, but is also customized to address local development challenges.
Mauritius is yet another country that has opened its doors to foreign universities in efforts to expand education in the country and in Africa as a whole.
Sauzier is trying to persuade corporates to think about sending their local staff for degrees in Mauritius as a way of keeping expatriate worker costs down. He quoted by the African Report.
Besides South Africa and Mauritius, a report by Campus France shows that Morocco and Angola are also catering to a large number of African students. According to the report, the partnerships between western universities are an “investment for the future” for Africa.
A complex at the UK’s Middlesex University, Mauritius branch campus
Image: Middlesex University, Mauritius