The Political Foundations of the Development of Higher Education in Africa

  • Bhekithemba R. MngomezuluEmail author
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


Higher education is irrefutably the apex of education in any country across the globe. A number of benefits are deemed to accrue from this level of education which is epitomized by the existence of tertiary institutions such as universities, technical colleges (polytechnics) and colleges of education. Consequently, national governments and the private sector invest huge financial resources in the development of higher education with the hope that it will yield positive results in different spheres of life and capacitate the general populace. Africa is understandably no exception in emphasising this level of education. Invariably, the development of higher education in Africa happened within the broader political context. Both the colonial administrators and African constituencies called for the provision of higher education facilities primarily for political reasons. The colonialists were determined to sustain their hegemony and control over Africans while Africans hoped to use higher education as a mechanism to rid themselves of colonial oppression. In both instances the political factor was the driving motive behind the development of higher education. Using examples from different parts of Africa, this paper demonstrates how the political factor played itself out in the development of higher education in Africa. The study is largely qualitative and comparative in nature and it uses arguments developed in Europe and in Africa on the need for higher education. The key conclusion drawn in this paper is that the historical account of the link between politics and higher education should assist the current African leadership in reconfiguring this sector.


High Education High Education Institution Political Factor African Continent Colonial State 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Relations, School of Social SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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