Former President John Dramani Mahama has reiterated the need for Africa’s educational sector to focus on science, technology and entrepreneurial development to help push for faster development of the continent.
This, he explained, should not lead to the neglect of the humanities, which are essential for the generation and exchange of ideas.
Speaking at the 23rd Convocation Lecture of the Lagos State University, Nigeria, former president Mahama said: “to be able to live up to the definition of Centres of Excellence, African Universities must move away from the colonial system of University education which concentrated on the grammar school education in humanities and classics.”
“I believe African Universities must focus on science, technology and innovation. African Universities must concentrate on courses and programmes that are relevant to their environment and that can assist the sustained progress of our societies.”
“A focus on science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurial development will also provide the needed catalyst for development. Of course, this focus will not mean a neglect of the humanities and philosophical discourse, which are essential for the generation and exchange of ideas and which also contribute to development”, he added.
Mr. Mahama who chaired the Lecture delivered by Nigerian Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on ‘Africa Centres of Excellence in African Universities: A Veritable Catalyst for Nation Building and Development’, also called for academic autonomy for African universities if they are to serve as centres of excellence.
“African Universities must have academic autonomy if they are to serve as centres of excellence for our nation’s progress. The political establishment must resist the temptation of meddling in academic appointments and other administrative functions of the universities. In Ghana, recent attempts by the political establishment to interfere in academic affairs of the University of Education Winneba and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have created tension and disruption of academic work”, he said.
Vice President Osinbajo also said the time has come for universities in Africa to be at the forefront of building research and collaboration to find lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the continent.