AAU Secretary-General, Vice Chancellors, Others Discuss the Transformation of African Higher Education

New volume recounts the impact of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa. 

Weaving Success: Voices of Change in African Higher Education, which offers an in-depth look at innovation and change across African campuses and national boundaries, will be launched today at a panel discussion hosted by the Institute of International Education in New York City. 

The panels will focus on “Investing in African Higher Education: Goals and Outcomes of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa” and “Supporting the Ongoing Transformation of African Higher Education.”  Segments of the panels will be posted at www.carnegie.org

Speakers will include Olugbemiro Jegede, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities; Brian O’Connell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape; Teboho Moja, Professor of Higher Education at New York University; and Allan E. Goodman, president and CEO of IIE, and a video conference with the author of Weaving Success.     

Weaving Success recounts the impact of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) and offers an in-depth examination of key issues in African higher education.  The volume highlights the transformative processes that are shaping the future of African colleges and universities. It includes stunning four-color photographs throughout, along with inspiring tales of success by African professors, university administrators, and students.  

The new volume also details how PHEA’s support helped to catalyze social and economic development in African higher education. Author Megan Lindow looks at how African universities have incorporated new technologies to address their pedagogical challenges, and considers how a newfound focus on gender among institutional leaders has helped widen access to higher education for women and sparked cultural change on campuses. Lindow’s reporting also examines the exceptional steps that African universities have made over the past decade to produce high-level research, and apply their innovations in ways that benefit their respective societies.  

The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa was an unprecedented collaboration between seven major U.S. foundations to support African higher education institutions in building capacity and training the next generation of scholars, public servants and entrepreneurs. The ten-year, $440 million initiative was directly and indirectly responsible for improving conditions for over four million students at 379 African colleges and universities.  

The initiative spanned a decade, from 2000-2010, and served nine African countries: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The PHEA foundations included: Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.  

The author of Weaving Success, Megan Lindow, spent more than a year traveling to each of the nine countries that received PHEA support and speaking with people whose lives were impacted by this initiative. Lindow expertly weaves together these diverse voices to tell a holistic story of systemic change across campuses and national boundaries. Vivid text boxes complement Lindow’s narrative and share personal triumphs from the perspective of individual stakeholders: a professor of chemistry in Ghana who utilized new technologies to upgrade his institution’s facilities; a budding lawyer who broke free of her society’s traditional gender roles and became the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.  

In his Foreword to the book, Njabulo S. Ndebele, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Cape Town, writes: “[Weaving Success] tells a story of innovation based on the persistent efforts of a new generation of researchers in African universities. They are resourceful, focused in their persistence, and seek continuous improvement from their initial successes. Leaders of higher education in Africa will be fascinated by homegrown stories of success in conditions of change that can lead only to more success.”  

In order to ensure that the book reaches a large audience both in the United States and Africa, Weaving Success will be available as a free download on a variety of electronic platforms, including the Kindle, Nook, and BlackBerry, and as a Flipbook and an app for all Apple devices. It is also copyrighted under the Creative Commons License, which will give scholars and students the ability to share and disseminate relevant sections.  

Partnership for Higher Education in Africa 

Launched in 2000 under the leadership of four foundation presidents—Susan Berresford (Ford Foundation), Gordon Conway (Rockefeller Foundation), Jonathan Fanton (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation), and Vartan Gregorian (Carnegie Corporation of New York)—the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) grew to encompass three additional foundations: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation. The Partnership was a response to trends towards improved governance, public policy reform, and the increasing participation of civil society organizations in a growing number of African countries. Foundations sought to support the priority given to education in general and especially the indispensable contribution of higher education to social and economic development. PHEA represented both a belief in the importance and viability of higher education in Africa and a mechanism to provide meaningful assistance to its revitalization.  

About the Author

The award-winning author Megan Lindow was commissioned by the Partnership to create this historic narrative. Lindow has served as Africa Correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education since 2005, and has contributed to publications including San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and Newsweek.