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Negotiating Ideologies, Politics and Values to Enhance Higher Education Cooperation in Africa: The Role of African Higher Education Associations. Leapetswe Malete University of Botswana ANIE Conference, October 2-4 2013. “The more things change the more they remain the same”.
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Negotiating Ideologies, Politics and Values to Enhance Higher Education Cooperation in Africa: The Role of African Higher Education Associations Leapetswe MaleteUniversity of Botswana ANIE Conference, October 2-4 2013
A Value-Laden Question • To what extent are African institutions or better still African nations active or passive agents in shaping or formulating the ideologies or values that underlie higher education development in their contexts? • This invariably takes us to the topic of internationalization of Education.
On Greatness and Destiny “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” William Shakespeare “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves” William Shakespeare
Internationalization • What? • What does internationalization mean to our institutions? 2. Why? • What objectives or goals does it and should it serve? 3. How? • How is it or should it be delivered?
Ideology Defined ‘…a broad interlocked set of ideas and beliefs about the world held by a group of people that they demonstrate in both behaviour and conversation to various audiences. These systems of belief are usually seen as ‘the way things really are’ by the groups holding them, and they become the taken-for-granted ways of making sense of the world.’ Meighan, R. & Harber, C. (2007) A Sociology of Educating, Continuum (p.212).
Education & Ideology ‘..no area of human endeavour can ever be neutral or value-free since it is always underpinned by the values and beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, of its proponents…Education itself can therefore never be 'neutral' or 'value free.‘ Hicks (June 2013) http://www.teaching4abetterworld.co.uk/ideology.html
Neo-liberal ideology • Human dignity and individual freedom are seen as the central values of civilisation • Human nature is seen as being basically competitive and thus how the world works • It is therefore rational for each person to maximise their own personal benefits • Economic rationality, i.e. competition, will bring appropriate material benefits to all • The state should accordingly be ‘weak’ and not interfere with the free market process • Therefore what is ‘private’ is best and what is ‘public’ (i.e. state led) is to be avoided • Results in a market driven view of education
Neo-Liberal ideology and education • Conservatives in the 80s wanted greater control of education and privatisation within it. • Money spent on education a waste of time unless it helps the country compete efficiently and effectively in the global market place. • Stress on competition by results, e.g. SATs and league tables; focus on ‘surface’ learning, i.e. knowing how to pass exams. • Market metaphors: parents as consumers, business model for education, competition brings out best in individuals and schools. • Education based on a technocratic, managerial and performance driven view of teaching and learning.
‘Welfare state’ ideology • Emphasis on cooperation and responsibility for welfare of others especially the less fortunate. The state/ government seen as key to promoting the welfare of all society. A quite different view of society and thus education. • Education seen as a service offered by professionals (teachers) to the community – not as a commodity to be sold. • Education seen as having important role to play in exploring self and society. In particular in questioning issues of inequality and injustice in the local and global community. • Neoliberals are opposed to this progressive notion of education and have thus strenuously opposed it so that from the 80s onwards the neoliberal view of education has become predominant in the west.
Global citizenship education • It is impossible to make sense of life in our own communities unless we understand the nature of local-global interdependence • How does the world impinge on life in my local context? How is my local context related to the rest of the world? • Four key issues: inequality, human rights, peace and conflict, sustainable futures • Examples: climate change, peak oil, resource depletion, food supplies, ecological damage • Informed citizens understand the nature of local-global interdependence and are prepared to work for positive change in the community • The reconstructionist tradition: that education has a crucial role to play in the improvement of society
Person-Centred education • Stresses importance of helping each and every learner develop their full potential in life, whatever that may be • Fundamental belief in innate ‘goodness’ of human beings and the possibility of achieving self-realisation • Focuses on positive sense of self-worth and developing a wide range of interpersonal skills • These include: self-reflection, active listening, emotional literacy, clear communication and conflict resolution skills • Each individual is thus better able to contribute to the well-being of society
Questions worth asking • The role of the internal and external environment in shaping the ideologies, politics and values that underlie higher education development in Africa and internationalization of higher education? • Internal to researchers and leaders - conscious and subconscious • Internal to the institution – institutional culture, politics and values • Internal at national level: e.g. transparency, access to information and academic freedom • External as in global actors: Donors and partners, cultural, socio-political and economic factors, Afrocentric vs Eurocentric values systems and traditions, soft power
Why is all this important? An unprecedentedupsurge in competition to build global institutions and knowledge economies. Changes to the geo-political environment compelling institutions and nations to engage and not to be disengage
TheRole of Higher Education • Higher Education seen as a key driver of economic development and superiority in global competition: • Skills development, research and innovation • Income for universities and national economies • Institutional and national prestige comes with huge pecks • Soft power –propagate ideals – build networks of friends • Global rankings are as much about nations as they are about Universities…
Underlying Ideologies, Politics and Values The pressure to lead knowledge production and generate evidence that would inform public policy means researchers and institutions have to constantly negotiate terrains laden with: • Ideologies • Politics • Values systems This is even more critical when one has to consider the world order and the conflating concepts of race, gender, and class.
A call to hear African voices • Where do we place Africa in all these debates? • Can Africa produce more institutions that are key players in global higher education, capable of making significant contributions to research and innovation and in turn benefit national and regional economies? • What stories do African researchers and higher education hear and tell themselves?
The argument African universities not deriving optimal benefits from developments in global higher education and research because • Higher education agendas seem to be borne out of expediency not so much from a set of values and purposes developed against set priorities, contextual and global imperatives • Drivers and policy makers behind African higher education development are yet to ask and commit energies to the what, why and how questions on strategy and approaches
The argument… • Researchers and institutions need to find their own voices, be clear about who they are and what they would like to achieve. • They have to shape their agendas and ensure they are aligned to national aspirations. They have to commit internal resources to these processes. • Researchers have to be reflective, critical thinkers • A lot can be achieved with existing talent and resources even in the context of huge challenges and limitations
A call to action through Intentionality Set priorities and take steps to implement them: • Focus on the quality of teaching, key competencies students should posses upon graduation • increased staff participation in research and research outputs • Improve the integration of research and teaching • Increased and enhanced student research training • Increased internal and external funding for research • Increased regional collaboration to share resources and experiences • Leveraging on the support from well developed partners from the north and donor agencies and ensuring that the support is targeted to priority areas and has impact
The Role of Regional Bodies • All of the above call for affirming the existence of divergent views, ideologies, politics and values and taking steps to accommodate them and making them part of the partnerships’ negotiations • Regional higher education bodies such SARUA, ANIE, SARIMA, WARIMA etc. need to provide a framework for constant reflections and strategies for stronger intra-African cooperation, harmonization, and quality assurance - intentionality and a broader outlook
Recommendations Need for to be very strategic • Efficiency of institutional processes or operations • Ability to demonstrate value • Setting clear priorities that are relevant to context • Keep roles simple, clear, transparent and unambiguous- set clear expectations for everyone • Engage all individuals that need to involved • An uncompromising commitment to quality and talent development
Some Underlying Principles The need for balance and high level of awareness of: • Local and global imperatives in higher education– embrace local, regional and global imperatives – stay relevant • Local/national and global approaches to building excellence in teaching and research • Working in local and multi-cultural contexts- cross-cultural fluency and global competitiveness • The ideals of pursuing projects as commercial endeavors on hand and as tools to develop and share new knowledge and ideas on the other • Emphasis on similarities as opposed to differences • Issues of access, equity and globalization
Some Underlying Principles • Search for a set values (virtues) that define institutions and live the virtues • Build lasting partnerships: trustworthiness, empathy and never compromise on good ethical conduct • Universities as catalysts of inclusivity – Building more inclusive societies would solve half of our problems • Value reciprocity to sustain relationships • Change of mindset: Strong efficacy beliefs, cognitive restructuring – Change the worthless stories Africans tell themselves or they hear from pessimists – Optimism
Finally Jim Collins – “Good to Great” • The Hedgehog concept - pathway to developing great institutions • Set big, hairy, audacious goals – take smalls steps to achieve them • Develop institutions that are larger than individuals that lead them • Confront the brutal facts- but keep the faith Having the fortitude to confront the brutal facts is the only pathway to success!
Thank you! Leps Malete University of Botswana email@example.com