Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lecture by professor N'Dri Assié-Lumumba: "Higher Education And African Development Since The 1960s"

By Hannah Altmann, Haneen Abdel Maksoud and Passant El Gayar

Cairo, Egypt – Professor N’Dri Assié-Lumumba of the African and Diaspora education at Cornell University in New York, held a lecture titled “Higher Education And African Development Since The 1960s: Global-Local Dynamics” on Sunday, April 27th in Mansour Hall at The American University in Cairo (AUC). 

The lecture focused on the development of higher education since the 1960s in Africa.
“Education is a universal need,” states Assié-Lumumba, as she starts off the lecture and continues to say, “it has a particular connection with human advancement and social progress.”

When speaking of education, we have to look at the historical context. As the African-American historian, John Henrik Clarke had once said “the role of history is to tell a people what they have been and where they have been, what they are and where they are.”

After the creation of UNESCO in 1948, education was considered a human right; it gave the right for everybody to receive education and gave the states the responsibility to provide a framework for education (Assié-Lumumba). Prior to the creation of UNESCO, parts of Africa were still under colonial rule. Some countries didn’t receive education by their colonizers and those who did, by law had a limited amount of years of education they couldn’t exceed. However, Africans were eager to have access to education. The United Nations (UN) came to have similar views as them and the 1960’s was declared year of educational of development. Nevertheless, some African countries were still under colonial influence after their independence.

The lecturer continued to say that contrary to the UN’s belief, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided that higher education was not necessary in Africa, after the 1970s oil crisis. It was consuming too much money, and was not operating, as it should, according to the standards of the IMF and the World Bank. Therefore they refused to further invest in higher education in Africa and shifted their attention to basic education.

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to improve Africa by 2015. These goals include eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development. Assié-Lumumba points out that: ” if you want to succeed, you can’t miss out on any of these eight points” because as the Human Capital Theory suggests, there is a linear and positive correlation between education and development. An attendee of the lecture by the name of Ahmed Alaa said that "I found the lecture interesting because it made me understand why Africa is so behind in terms of education and development."

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