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Transforming Higher Education in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly devastating effect on African universities, revealing vast inequalities and a lack of technological capacity. Fixing higher education on the continent requires greater investment in scientific research and placing social justice at the center of universities’ teaching and research agendas.

FEZ – COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on millions of schoolchildren and university students worldwide, causing a global education crisis that affects nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries. But the pandemic has had a particularly devastating effect on already-impaired universities in Africa, highlighting the urgent need for reform.

The requirement to enforce social distancing during the pandemic has led universities around the world to close their campuses and shift to online learning, which had a substantial effect on students’ lives. Many experienced financial difficulties, with some forced to leave on-campus housing and others losing out on internship opportunities. In Africa, the digital transformation of higher education has revealed systemic inequities, including a vast digital divide, insufficient resources, and inadequate education in information technologies.

Across the continent, numerous national, regional, and global initiatives have sought to help students and faculty make the transition to digital learning. In countries like Morocco and Nigeria, for example, civil-society organizations urged governments to provide students unable to participate in remote learning with laptops, personal computers, and internet connections.