ZAMUXOLO NDUNA | Private tertiary education a fast-growing sector


The privatisation of higher education in Africa is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing segments of post-secondary education.There are numerous reasons for this:● The public sector doesn’t have the ability to satisfy the social demands for higher education, hence there’s actually the need for higher education to be privatised, to expand students’ accessibility to institutions of higher learning;● Policies of national governments are deregulated for the provision of education and, therefore, give adequate opportunities for private participation in education;● In Africa, institutions of higher learning are unable to respond to the demand for employment-oriented courses, therefore it becomes imperative that the private sector should expand;● In Africa, there’s growing concern over the inefficiency of public universities, while the private sector is increasingly promoted for its efficiency in operation.At the time of independence movements in Africa, education in general was expected to play a pivotal role in the national project of social progress.For example, issues surrounding the philosophy and education goals during the post-colonial period were viewed within the broader framework of political ideologies from pro-Western liberal ideology and capitalist systems (Botswana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast) to marxist/leninist/socialist ideology (Benin and Zimbabwe) to African socialism (Mali and Tanzania).Therefore, regardless of political ideologies, African nations conceived higher education as one of the important agents of development with, of course, the mission of formulating relevant programmes as well as providing high-level manpower for the actualisation of the governments’ project of national development.Therefore, higher education in Africa aimed at:● Developing and inculcating proper values for the survival of individuals in Africa, so that they would be self-reliant and useful members of our society;● Developing the intellectual capacity of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environments;● Developing physical and intellectual skills of individuals;● Promoting and encouraging scholarship and community service;● Promoting national and international understanding and interaction; and● National development through relevant high-level manpower training.African nationalists were all agreed on the lack of relevance of European education, inherited by Africa, and the need to adopt their own education system to meet the needs and aspirations of African people.Before and shortly after independence, African public universities had a near monopoly in providing higher education in Africa.Reforms that were initiated under the structural adjustments programmes, with the deregulation of policies and also the financial crisis in African states opened an encouraging environment for the emergence of private higher education in Africa.This was then further strengthened by local legislative measures enacted by national governments, which then provided grounds for the establishment of private institutions of higher education.Currently, Africa can boast of a large number of established private institutions, even though they account for a small percentage of enrolment in higher education.Therefore, private institutions have become a fast expanding segment of higher education in Africa.Scholars such as Kitaev and Varghese have based their arguments on the proliferation of private higher education on several factors.For example, Kitaev based his argument on the active performance of private agencies in school education compared with public institutions.On the other hand, Varghese has submitted that some foreign international bodies have influenced the proliferation of private institutions. A typical example is Kenya. The Kenyan government in the early 1990s bid to obtain credit assistance from the World Bank, in which the credit was made to restrict the growth of enrolment in public institutions.There is no doubt that the restrictions led to or promoted the establishment of a large number of private universities and institutions in Kenya.There are four ownership patterns of private higher education in Africa, namely transnational, collaboration with foreign institutions, collaboration with public universities and religious affiliation.There are quite a number of foreign-owned private higher institutions, founded and operated by foreign organisations.The Daystar Company from the US founded and operated Daystar University of Kenya.Bong University, of Australia, Monash University, of Australia (which has recently left SA) as well as Business School Netherland, from the Netherlands, were operating in Africa.There are several private institutions that operates in collaboration with foreign institutions, such as universities in the UK, the US and Australia.In Nigeria, for example, a large number of private universities collaborate with public institutions, including Ajayi Crowther University of Oyo and Immanuel College of Theology Ibadan.Similar private institutions exist in countries like Ghana and Zimbabwe.A number of private institutions are owned and operated by Christian or Muslims organisations, such as the Catholic University in Kenya and Uganda Christian University.When considering the benefits of higher education to the public and the poverty profile of Africans, a completely free market of higher education would be both unfair to the majority of the population and uneconomical to the African society where skilled manpower has been considered as a major constraint to socio-economic development.It is therefore recommended that Africa should settle for a model that would balance privatisation and subsidisation. ● Zamuxolo Nduna is a masters student in comparative education at Zhejiang Normal University in China.

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