Principal and vice chancellor, University of South Africa (UNISA), Professor Puleng LenkaBula, has charged African universities to focus on education, science, technology and innovation-driven skills to solve the continent’s problems.
LenkaBula said this while delivering the 12th convocation lecture of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Abuja,
He noted that Africa must re-imagine its university system to address the current challenges.
Speaking on the theme; ‘Volatility and Opportunities in Higher Education,’ she added that the pan-African university must, out of necessity, help Africa to achieve Goal 2 of Agenda 2063, where “we will have well-educated citizens and skills revolution underpinned by science, technology and innovation.”
The Professor of Social Ethics also urged African universities to deal with legacies of colonialism, racism and apartheid, and cultural imperialism, from curriculum transformation to development of infrastructure, partnerships, and sustainable funding.
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“If we are to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ in this century, especially under the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals, we must make sure that all the human and social constructed structures of exclusion, discrimination and dehumanisation of women, children, differently-abled people, and the nationally oppressed people across the world are totally demolished even in the knowledge generation and dissemination processes,” she said.
She also called for development of infrastructure, partnerships and sustainable funding of universities for them to produce knowledge for a rapidly changing Africa and the world.
LenkaBula, who is the first female vice chancellor of UNISA, established about 150 years ago, decried what she referred to as poor investment in Research and Development R&D by African governments.
While stressing that the African Continent needs to reclaim the research agenda from foreign lands, she maintained that the pan-African university must influence higher rates of investment in research, development, and innovation (R&DI).
She also noted that the raison d’etre for the university was to question and advance society.
LenkaBula said: “A progressive pan-African university is an organic one; one that identifies the condition of the people, locally and globally, and seeks to question and improve the human condition.
“African universities must deal with legacies of colonialism, racism and apartheid, and cultural imperialism, from curriculum transformation to development of infrastructure, partnerships, and sustainable funding.
“They must live up to the pressures of producing knowledge for a rapidly changing Africa and the world. These are the twin challenges of the African university; a university that must remember Africans and Africa in the global community of equals.”
She further charged African universities to rethink questions on “who we teach, where we teach, how we teach, why we teach, when we teach”.
She also noted that, the pan-African university must define its role in questioning and advancing pan-African unity in the region and the diaspora, stressing the need for the universities to provide the solutions needed to achieve peace, development, and prosperity that the continent is destined for.
The vice chancellor of NOUN, Professor Olufemi Peters, in his earlier remark, said NOUN had learnt a lot from the University of South Africa, which is the first Open and Distance Learning University in Africa.
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