Building a Strong Undergraduate Research Culture in African Universities

Kizza, Joseph M. (2011) Building a Strong Undergraduate Research Culture in African Universities. International Journal of Computing and ICT Research, 5 (2). pp. 1-80. ISSN Online: 1996-1065, Print: 1818-1139

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Africa had a late start in the race to setting up and obtaining universities with research quality fundamentals. According to Mamdani [5], the first colonial universities were few and far between: Makerere in East Africa, Ibadan and Legon in West Africa. This last place in the race, compared to other continents, has had tremendous implications in the development plans for the continent. For Africa, the race has been difficult from a late start to an insurmountable litany of problems that include difficulty in equipment acquisition, lack of capacity, limited research and development resources and lack of investments in local universities. In fact most of these universities are very recent with many less than 50 years in business except a few. To help reduce the labor costs incurred by the colonial masters of shipping Europeans to Africa to do mere clerical jobs, they started training ―workshops‖ calling them technical or business colleges. According to Mamdani, meeting colonial needs was to be achieved while avoiding the ―Indian disease‖ in Africa -- that is, the development of an educated middle class, a group most likely to carry the virus of nationalism. Upon independence, most of these ―workshops‖ were turned into national ―universities‖, but with no clear role in national development. These national ―universities‖ were catering for children of the new African political elites. Through the seventies and eighties, most African universities were still without development agendas and were still doing business as usual. Meanwhile, governments strapped with lack of money saw no need of putting more scarce resources into big white elephants. By mid-eighties, even the UN and IMF were calling for a limit on funding African universities. In today‘s African university, the traditional curiosity driven research model has been replaced by a market-driven model dominated by a consultancy culture according to Mamdani (Mamdani, Mail and Guardian Online). The prevailing research culture as intellectual life in universities has been reduced to bare-bones classroom activity, seminars and workshops have migrated to hotels and workshop attendance going with transport allowances and per diems (Mamdani, Mail and Guardian Online). There is need to remedy this situation and that is the focus of this paper.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Divisions: Faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics > School of Electronics and Computer Science
Depositing User: Mrs Oluwafunmilola Bankole
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2020 11:43
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2020 11:43

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