The Discourse On The Need For Universities

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The discourse on the need for universities to contribute to innovation is widespread in African countries and among international organisations. Stakeholders lament the weak contribution of universities to innovation, while at the same time acknowledging the difficulties higher education institutions face. Major international organizations recognize that university-industry collaborations are scarce and weak in most African countries; in addition, they point to a shortage of skills in science and engineering, and university curricula that tend to be irresponsive to industry’s needs (The World Bank 2009). Moreover, because of a lack of expertise and financial resources, many African countries are not able to develop sound science, technology and innovation policies (World Bank 2009; UNESCO and The African Union 2009).
An array of policy documents and initiatives seek to encourage and support the contribution of universities to innovation in Africa. These policy discourses can be identified among national governments, international organizations, and international aid agencies. Organizations such as The World Bank, OECD and UNESCO regularly issue policy documents in support of African universities playing a greater role in innovation. For instance, the United Nations’ Task Team on the Post Millennium Development Goals-2015 acknowledges the role of innovation in driving growth in developing countries (UN 2013). The World Bank in particular has been for the past couple of
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