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Africa universities asked to reform courses to fit productive sectors

African UniversitiesMr. John Ssebuwufu, Director of Research and Programmes at the Association of African Universities has advised managements of tertiary institutions in Africa to reform and tailor their educational programmes to meet the productive sector of the economy.

“School authorities need to shift from the colonial programmes and repackage their courses to train graduates with critical thinking and analysis as well as problem solving to help develop interventions to solve the continents many developmental challenges”, he said.

Mr. Ssebuwufu gave the advice in an interview over the weekend at the sideline of a two day forum in Accra to deliberate on a synergy between tertiary institutions and productive industry.

The event, which brought together tertiary heads and other representatives from the African continent, was organized by the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the Association of University and College of Canada (AUCC).

It was under the theme “Strengthening Linkages between Industry and the Productive Sector and Higher Education Institutions in Africa.”

Mr. Ssebuwufu said “Africa is endowed with natural resources and we need to train graduates to be entrepreneurs to help optimize these resources with creative talent and facilitate rapid development in the continent.”

Synergies between higher education institutions and industries, he said, could play a critical role in securing and leveraging additional resources for higher education, promoting innovation and technology transfer and ensuring that graduates had the skills and knowledge required to effectively contribute to the workforce.

He said there was a lack of data to provide a comprehensive and informed picture of what steps African higher education institutions have already taken and what is needed to provide a strengthened, more comprehensive platform for building partnerships with the productive sector.

He said a study conducted by the AAU and AUCC under the project, revealed that about 133 institutions across Africa had taken initial steps to promote industry linkages through the establishment of dedicated offices and personnel, the promotion of industry linkages in strategic plans, consultancy services and student attachments among other actions.

“However, limited funds to support such linkages, lack of research infrastructure including the absence of science parks and technology incubators, lack of qualified researchers and limited expertise in entrepreneurialism and marketing among other factors represent significant challenges.”

“There is also the challenge of lack of data to provide a comprehensive and informed picture of what steps African higher education institutions have taken and what is needed to provide a strengthened, more comprehensive platform for promoting, building, and managing synergetic partnerships with the productive sector,” he added.

He said in terms of promoting entrepreneurialism and practical skills among staff and students, the study also showed that institutions only engaged guest speakers to provide business and entrepreneurial advice, and offer student attachments.

Madam Trudy K. Kernighan, Canadian High Commission to Ghana said in a rapidly evolving world, educational institutions needed flexibility and the necessary push to respond to issues affecting individuals, communities, societies and the world.

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