- UCT News
Youth Month: What does decolonised African education look like? (South Africa)
Dr Tabane was moderating the second session of the recent youth-centred Africa Day symposium hosted by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the African Union, in collaboration with the University of Cape Town (UCT) and its Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance. “If we lose the education war, all our other efforts won’t mean anything.” “Do we have a peer-review mechanism for education? Because if we lose the education war, all our other efforts won’t mean anything … We will continue in bondage,” Tabane noted. Africa needs an urgent plan, he added, to “move things beyond the theoretical convergence that we often have at symposia of this nature”. The first respondent to Tabane’s challenge was #FeesMustFall activist Mcebo Dlamini, who said that this process had to begin with Africans “decolonising themselves first”. “We might have all these ideas of an Africa we want, but have we prepared the minds of our people? Because decolonisation seeks to speak to the mind, the attitude, the behaviour of black people.” “The biggest problem we have is that universities stand in Africa … but they are not speaking to African problems.” Colonial education systems had turned blacks into “sophisticated hobos”; servants and slaves, Dlamini said. “It is not producing people who are going to own industry and the means of production. It is an education that is turning a black man into a white person. It is an education that has made us mimic Western tendencies. The biggest problem we have is that universities stand in Africa … but they are not speaking to African problems.” Colonialist education and the creation of an educated black elite are deepening divides on the continent, and not focusing on those living in poverty and facing African problems and diseases, such as Ebola. Neither did the system train Africans to be critical thinkers, Dlamini said. In her response, UCT Centre for African Studies lecturer Dr Thuto Thipe described the history of the centre being embedded in colonialism. It was created some 100 years ago to train British colonial officials to “run the empire” on African soil. A century later, her teaching centres on African political thought, and a master’s course titled “Problematising the study of Africa”. “We are reclaiming; we are taking hold; we are asserting our knowledge systems and our own histories in our education system.” “Africa is in motion,” she said. “We are reclaiming; we are taking hold; we are asserting our knowledge systems and our own histories in our education system and in imagining our present and our future.”
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2. University World News
Start-up ecosystems beckon opportunity for universities (Africa)
With an increase in the number of African countries included in the global top 100 start-up ecosystems, the continent’s universities should use this as an engine of job creation and economic growth, especially with the pandemic raging. The rise of tech start-up ecosystems across the African continent was highlighted in the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2021 report released on 17 June by StartupBlink, a global start-up ecosystem map and research centre. The Global Startup Ecosystem Index (GSEI) measures ecosystems based on three metrics, including the number of start-ups (quantity), their quality, and their business environment. Africa’s start-up ecosystem trajectory appears to be on the move. The 14 African countries in the global top 100 start-up ecosystems include South Africa (48), Kenya (61), Nigeria (63), Rwanda (69), Egypt (70), Mauritius (73), Ghana (81), Tunisia (82), Cape Verde (87), Somalia (94), Morocco (95), Uganda (97), Namibia (99), and Ethiopia (100). For the first time since this report has been published, an African country was included in the top 50, with South Africa increasing four spots, to be ranked 48th globally. Other notable increases in Africa are Egypt, which climbed 11 spots to rank 70th, and Nigeria, which leapt five spots to now rank 63rd globally. With its debut in the GSEI, Mauritius is now ranked in the 73rd position. Making the cut for the first time, Namibia is ranked 99th, and the vibrant seed ecosystem of Ethiopia 100th globally. Somalia, in 94th position, is another example of innovation flourishing under tough economic circumstances, prompting the GSEI report to say: “We were inspired to see how the public sector and local entrepreneurs have worked hard to foster high-quality innovations aimed at solving some of the country’s biggest problems.” And: “Very few would imagine that Somalia, with its challenging situation, could have such a growing and vibrant start-up ecosystem.” When looking at cities, Lagos in Nigeria now commands the top spot in Africa in 122nd position after switching places with Nairobi, Kenya, which now ranks 136th. Egypt’s Cairo has had a significant increase of 21 spots to rank 180th globally. While the Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Africa sub-regions are represented in the index, Central Africa still has no representation in the rankings. Four African countries, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda, also feature in the global coronavirus innovation map, which ranks countries based on innovations and solutions produced to combat the coronavirus. The positive performance by a number of countries could be enhanced by the launch, on 22 June, of Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation. The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), in partnership with South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Stellenbosch University (SU), has launched the centre to upscale and commercialise home-grown innovations on the continent.
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