Innovative Ideas For Financing State Universities In Africa
Fredrick Nafukho, assistant professor of vocational and adult education, uses an economic model to examine how African universities are advancing educational opportunities and looking at future directions that will help higher education prosper.
He presented his findings at an international symposium on African Universities in the 21st Century, held jointly at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill., and Dakar, Senegal.
Nafukho examines the university system in Kenya, using it as an example of how governments worldwide face the challenge of funding public education along with other needs.
Nafukho works from a model that applies economic tools of analysis to education.
"Education is a most durable investment," Nafukho said. "Once you have the knowledge, it remains with you and does not depreciate."
Until recently, most African universities took only government-sponsored students that qualified through a centralized examination process. However, because of the government’s limited financial resources, only a fraction of qualified students were admitted to universities.
"Brilliant people were getting wasted along the way," Nafukho said.
Recently, however, the universities have opened their doors to qualified, self-paying students. This has allowed more students to attend universities, and has enabled the institutions to expand their educational programs.
"Universities thought their work was solely education," Nafukho said, but now the institutions have set up programs to educate people while making a profit that can then be re-invested in education.
Although he sees the move to free market enterprise as positive, Nafukho warns that such reforms may have drawbacks.
"Quality can be sacrificed," if universities are careless with their newfound income, he said. "We need to invest the profits into facilities and faculty salaries."