With funding support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), the Council for the Development for Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is launching a new higher education policy initiative (HEPI). The envisaged outcomes of the HEPI initiative relate to contributing to the emergence of a critical mass of a wide array of stakeholders, within and outside the universities that can continuously provide oversight on how the universities are governed and managed. The project will target academics and institutions in six Sub-Saharan African countries. These are Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa. The main activities of the initiative will be research; research capacity building/enhancement, multi-stakeholder convening, publications and dissemination of research findings.
HEPI will build on the results and gaps emerging from the CODESRIA Higher Education Leadership Program (HELP), which the council has been implementing since 2011 and also supported by the CCNY. Studies commissioned under HELP document the diverse changes in governance that have taken place in a number of African universities, the new entities that have been created to provide governance oversight in the form of National Councils, new procedures for constituting university councils and senates and the challenges that face entrenchment of the reforms in the institutions. In crafting the new governance frameworks, governments and policy makers hoped that the new governance regimes would contribute to improving the quality of university education in the continent. The HELP studies however show that translating the policies into practical day-to-day leadership cultures and actions that focus on recreating the universities as centers of relevant academic and research excellence remains problematic. Universities in most of Sub-Saharan Africa still face governance and leadership challenges stemming from the inability of the systems to design adequate interventions to improve quality as measured against agreed-upon benchmarks for academic excellence. The extent to which the new governance frameworks are shaping the management and academic life of the institutions; including what and how new relationships with external stakeholders are being forged and the extent to which new management cultures that embody greater transparency in the use of resources are emerging or not in the institutions will be the focus of the HEPI initiative.
The HEPI initiative resonates with other research and training initiatives that CODESRIA has been engaged in, and both COPDESRIA and the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s shared commitment to supporting universities in Africa to work more efficiently and produce better academic outcomes that can have positive impacts in shaping public policies. The activities of this initiative will be guided by the following objectives.
To generate research on critical governance and leadership related issues that face higher education in a subset of African countries to inform policy
To enhance the capacity of social science academics in a sub-set of African countries to conduct research on higher education;
_ Enhance the capacity of higher education leadership in a subset of African countries to engage with a wide range of stakeholders.
_ Enhance the capacity of higher education institutions to use varied data for institutional management and accountability
_ To disseminate research results from the project to a broader range of higher education stakeholders in Africa; including the academic and non-academic stakeholders.
Research and policy convening for the initiative will revolve around the following themes.
Broadening stakeholder engagement in Higher Education governance in Africa.
_ The nature and quality of data for governance and its utilization in managing higher education institutions in Africa.
_ Leadership and Innovative pedagogies in African higher education
_ Higher Education reform and role of middle level academics in university governance and leadership.
A call inviting proposals and concept notes from academics and researchers interested in participating in any of the activities of the initiative will soon be out on the CODESRIA website and associated outlets