Publisher: African Studies Association

The Promise of Partnership and Continuities of Dependence: External Support To Higher Education In Africa

Joel Samoff, Bidemi Carrol
KEYWORDS: The Promise of Partnership and Continuities of Dependence: External Support to Higher Education in Africa


After a period of conscious neglect and dramatic deterioration, higher education in Africa is again attracting external attention, with an emphasis now on “partnerships” rather than “aid.” This report is based on an extensive survey of links between African institutions of higher education and foreign governments, foundations, and universities, with particular emphasis on links with the United States. In it, we explore the evolution, characteristics, promise, and problems of external support. Earlier, most African universities were linked to European institutions. With independence, they asserted their sovereignty and autonomy. By the 1980s, however, resources were inadequate nearly everywhere. Today, renewed attention may bring new funds, yet it also may bring new problems. Academic partnerships are often one-sided, and external support commonly carries conditions. By framing, organizing, and orienting the academic enterprise and thus ways of knowing and validating knowledge, partnerships threaten to reintroduce, in both explicit and subtle ways, the external direction of the earlier era. A consideration of these and other issues is followed by several appendixes, which contain a thorough cataloging of this material and may be used as a resource for future research.

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