News & events


Re-emergence of a Crisis Narrative in African Higher Education

05 March 2020
12:30 - 14:00

Date: 5 March 2020    |    Time: 12h30 – 14h00   
Venues in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town

Livestream via Vidyo

Presenter: Dr Ibrahim Oanda, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Senegal

Discussant: Dr Sam Fongwa, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Education and Skills Development research programme, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Prof Thierry Luescher, Research Director, Education and Skills Development research programme, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The sense of hope and promise for higher education (HE) in Africa and its place in global higher education (World Bank, 1999, 2002), felt at the beginning of the century, is ebbing. A crisis narrative akin to what predated the imposition of adjustment regimes in HE institutions is now prevalent.

For some this scornfully delegitimizes possibilities for a well-functioning HE sector being realized on the continent in the foreseeable future, while others recommend bailout options that disempower institutions, especially promising ones, as they become reliant on global HE networks and knowledge production systems. How did the promise of HE vitality on the continent dissipate so fast and what accounts for the crisis narrative? This seminar will speculate on these issues along three lines. First is the internal decomposition of HE institutions (the lack of all forms of internal capacities) that were brought about by the adjustment interventions of the of the 1980s and 1990s. The second is the  lack of continental political will to embrace HE as a critical sector to realize sovereignty in its various forms, instead favouring external, ready made “products”. Third is the role of external actors in delegitimizing the flourishing of the HE space on the continent and its continued existence as an appendage of the global HE space.

Ibrahim Oanda works as a senior program officer and head of the Training, Grants and Fellowships program at CODESRIA, a Pan -African Social Science Research Council headquartered in Dakar Senegal. Before this role, Oanda taught at Kenyatta university Kenya, as Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations. His academic background is in the area of higher Education and Sociology of Knowledge and he has pursued research interests in a broad range of issues in African higher education.

Oanda has a two-year appointment as Associate Researcher at the Ali Mazrui Centre for higher Education studies, University of Johannesburg. He visits the HSRC in his capacity as an HSRC African Research Fellow and a collaborator on The Imprint of Education study in the Education and Skills Development research programme on which he serves as a Deputy Principal Investigator. 

Please advise the administrator below if you are intending

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference Room, 1st  floor HSRC Library, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria.
Contact Arlene Grossberg  | T: (012) 302 2811  | E:
Cape Town: HSRC Video Conference Room, Merchant House 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town.
Contact Shouneez Khan| T: (021) 466 7948 | E:
Durban: HSRC Video Conference Room, The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001.
Contact Ridhwaan Khan  | T: (031) 242 5400  | C: 083 788 2786  | E:  or Wiseman Mbambo E:

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please also note that this seminar may be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel.