Higher education and the public good in Africa
6 February 2018
The public good is something everyone recognises as important, yet many find it hard to pin down. The same can be said about higher education, with views divided on what it is, who should attend and how its public good functions should be assessed.
Thus there are many opinions as to whether higher education only encompasses universities or whether it includes other kinds of tertiary level education. Similarly, there are different views on whether higher education should be about widening access or elite specialist training. How one defines and understands higher education has implications for how we think of its relationship with the public good.
These issues are complex all over the world. In Africa they are particularly challenging. The continent has seen dramatic expansions in higher education in the past 15 years, with many countries stressing the importance of provision at this level for the economic development of the continent, especially within an increasingly ‘knowledge-driven’ world.