In June 2015, at the 25th session of the General Assembly of the African Union in Johannesburg, President Macky Sall of Senegal tabled the African Higher Education Summit Declaration and Action Plan for adoption by African Heads of State. The declaration and plan was the result of a March summit in Dakar that was sponsored by TrustAfrica and its partners.
Held at Dakar’s King Fahd Hotel March 10–12, 2015, the summit theme was “Revitalizing Higher Education for Africa’s Future”. Hosted by the Government of Senegal, it was organized by TrustAfrica in concert with a coalition of African educational organizations, and supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, MasterCard, World Bank, the Government of Senegal and other donors. More than 500 delegates included such dignitaries as HE President Macky Sall of Senegal, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chair of the African Union Commission, and Kofi Annan, the 7th Secretary General of the United Nations and chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation.
A rare continent-wide platform for higher education, the summit set out to build a broad constituency of stakeholders committed to investing in the sector in order to spur and sustain innovation. Background analyses that informed the summit deliberations were published in an ebook TrustAfrica prepared with the Mail and Guardian Africa. The meeting ended with a declaration and action plan on how the different stakeholders can lead the way forward.
Three months later, led by the Government of Senegal, the AU General Assembly declared its decision to prioritise higher education in Africa’s development agenda. The decision reads:
…On the outcomes of the Dakar Summit on Higher Education, the Assembly requested the AU Commission to take the lead in building the African common space for higher education and research. It requested member states to, among others, strengthen their support and investment in higher education in order to develop a critical mass of high level intellectual capital, and promote youth employability through entrepreneurship skills and innovation.
The Assembly also committed to the establishment of a team of ten Heads of State and Government (two from each geographic region) as African champions of education, science and technology, and endorsed President Macky Sall of Senegal as the first coordinator of the group of champions.
This is a major political milestone for higher education on the continent. TrustAfrica continues to work closely with the Government of Senegal and the Heads of State group to build on this momentum, recently undertaking, for example, a consultative visit to Ghana to discuss the development of work a National Plan for Higher Education with the Minister of Education and the National Council of Tertiary Education. The plan’s aim is to transform the sector to meet the needs of the country in the 21st century. During the visit, TrustAfrica sat down with the Minister of Education to explore these issues in more detail. Watch the interview here.