African Higher Education: Opportunities for Transformative Change for Sustainable Development

This report seeks to provide USAID and other interested stakeholders with recommendations towards effecting positive transformation of Sub-Saharan African higher education – at both the system and institutional levels. This work is based upon the premise that African higher education institutions are critical to sustainable human development on the continent, evidenced by numerous studies measuring higher education’s contribution to economic growth and long-term benefits to society.

This report deals with the full spectrum of African institutions of higher education, including public and private colleges, universities and polytechnics, which serve undergraduate and/or graduate students and have the authority to award certificates, diplomas and/or degrees. The report highlights several positive signs of progress on the continent and outlines African higher education’s significant contribution to development. It also examines the myriad challenges facing higher education in Sub-Saharan African (SSA). The report concludes with a proposed strategic framework, emphasizing alignment with USAID priorities, policies and strategies; proposed criteria for investment at the system and institutional levels; and recommendations for action.

The study looks backward as well as forward: backward to gain evidence for what works, and forward to understand the rapidly changing African social and economic landscape in order to shape future investments. The rate at which new approaches, businesses, and business models (in higher education and other sectors) are evolving is astonishing. Predicting the outcome of this transformation of higher education is challenging, but ignoring it will lead to missed opportunities

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