From Abdulfatah Babatunde
Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, has stressed the need to build bridges across African nations to change the narrative of higher education through a bottom-up approach.
Oloyede gave the advice in a presentation at the ongoing 22nd Conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP 2023), on Wednesday, in Windhoek, Namibia.
The NewsZenith reports that the title of his presentation is “Breaking Barriers and Building Strategies for Advancing Excellence in African Higher Education”.
JAMB Registrar opined that higher education “is a key driver of economic development and social progress, which shapes the future of any nation”.
He identified inadequate funding, limited access to quality education, brain drain and outdated curricula as some of the challenges affecting higher education in Africa.
According to him, several factors are also responsible for the decline in quality of higher education in the continent.
He listed some of them as institutional factors, poor governance structures, lack of academic freedom and inadequate funding.
To overcome the challenges, Oloyede canvassed for the support of institutions by coming up with appropriate policies and governance structures.
He expressed concern that despite recent progress, millions of young people still lack access to higher education in Africa.
Oloyede, who is also former Vice-Chancellor of University of Ilorin, attributed this to poverty, distance, gender, disability and other factors.
To get out of the barriers, he recommended capacity expansion of existing institutions and creating new institutions.
He also suggested provision of scholarships and bursaries and leveraging technology to reach remote and marginalised communities.
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“We must develop policies and programmes that promote inclusivity and equity in higher education.
“Countries must also provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of their background, gender or socio-economic status,” he said.
On funding, Oloyede canvassed for the coming together of governments, the private sector and philanthropists to find sustainable solutions to the funding challenges facing higher education.
According to him, there is also urgent need to identify priority areas that need attention in African higher education and establish partnerships with international institutions.
He identified brain drain as another barrier against advancing excellence in African higher education.
Oloyede, therefore, identified the need to create opportunities that keep the talented students and educators in Africa.
This, he said, governments must do by offering competitive salaries and improving working conditions.
“It is important to turn brain drain into brain gain and create opportunities for career advancement for staff.”
The NewsZenith reports that more than 600 delegates are participating in the five-day conference, with the theme “Advancing Excellence in African Higher Education”.
They include Rectors, Vice Chancellors, Researchers and other stakeholders.
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