Linking research with the other missions of the University May 2, 2009

It is generally agreed that the mission of a university is threefold: teaching, research and service to society (cf. Figure 1). Despite the resources and efforts deployed by African countries and their partners, attainment of these missions by the university as an institution seems somewhat mixed. There are countless meetings, colloquia, and writings on the difficulties of universities in Africa. For example, Majewa Mbaya (2001) writes : “The great difficulty of the African university is in its lack of adaptation to society, which has brought about the following serious consequences: a) training provided at the university no longer corresponds to society’s demands, hence the increase in unemployment among its graduates; b) research conducted within the African university contributes nothing to its environment, leaving the problems of Africa’s industrial, economic and social development untouched.” He could have added a third conclusion: c) the results of research are not sufficiently used to evolve teaching and render the curriculum more culturally pertinent.

The objective of this concept note is not to discuss all the problems facing universities in Africa. It will address the role that research can play to help the university fulfil its two other missions – teaching and service to society. The goal is not to provide solutions here to these complex problems but to indicate paths for reflection and action.


[ Full Document ]

By Innocent Butaré & Kathryn Toure

Presented at the UNESCO Regional Conference on Higher Education in Africa, Dakar, Senegal, November 12, 2008

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