Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan

Speaking the African Higher Education Summit in Dakar Senegal recently, Annan stressed that higher education institutions should be ?melting pots of diversity? and ?incubators of pluralism? if they were to stay relevant to the needs of the global market place.

This, he said, would enable the youth to have a better mindset and inspire positive citizenship and leadership.

Annan explained how the University of Ghana and University of Sussex are collaborating on joint teaching and research programs, to facilitate student and staff exchanges and jointly train and develop doctoral students.

Through cooperation between African governments and universities, the continent can build regional centres of excellence that improve both the quality of research and education, according to Annan.

?I think this could allow us to develop world-class research-intensive universities, to generate the knowledge both governments and businesses need to succeed in Africa and globally,? said Annan.

?Africa has exported some of its brightest minds, as both professors and students. Many of the continent?s brightest young prospects feel they must leave Africa to further their studies, to publish or be mentored, and to develop personal expertise. They can benefit Africa as they benefit their host countries today,? he added.

Quoting Nelson Mandela, Annan stressed that education was the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

Kofi Annan was addressing some 500 participants, among them the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, national ministers of higher education, other dignitaries and some 50 Vice-Chancellors from across the continent.

The summit, with the theme revitalizing higher education for Africa?s future, is the brainchild of TrustAfrica,.

?I have long been a believer in the transformative power of education. Education is one of the most effective forms of peace building, a source of hope for each individual, and the premise of development and progress for society,? Annan, who serves as the Chancellor of the University of Ghana added.

Annan commended the African Union for its effort towards transformation.

He regretted that the continent had many unemployed university graduates, even as economies have grown by more than 5% in a decade.

Speaking at the same conference, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, the former Makerere University vice chancellor, emphasized lack of employable skills.

He told participants that the government was encouraging the youth to enter a technical education institution, creating a further need for financial assistance, to retain staff and manage the facilities.

By Carol Natukunda & agencies, The New Vision

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