Issue No: 27/2020

COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor – 21 October 2020

Special Edition on Higher Education in Africa

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ACCORD COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor
References: AfricaCDC, ACLED and African Arguments

This week’s Monitor focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on the Higher Education Sector in Africa. The intention is to contribute to on-going dialogues, not only about the disruptions that COVID-19 has caused in this important sector in Africa, but also emphasising the resilience and creativity displayed by many institutions of Higher Learning and the ways in which they have adapted to miminise the impact on education and research, ensuring as much as possible that ‘no one is left behind’.

Kari Mugo, Naliaka Odera & Maina Wachira, from the Mawazo Institute in Kenya, share the outcomes of a very informative survey carried out among 501 individuals affiliated with Higher Education and Research Institutions in Africa, which shows how COVID-19 has exacerbated some of the already existing vulnerabilities in areas of research and teaching within this sector. The swift efforts and measures instituted by the University of Ghana to adjust their teaching and learning programmes to COVID-19 are shared by the Pro Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Student Affairs, Prof Nana Aba Appiah Amfo. Prof Gaidi Faraj, The Head of College: African Leadership University in Rwanda discusses how COVID-19 has foregrounded the long overdue need to streamline and strengthen E-learning on the continent. The edition concludes with Prof Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s call to prioritise African knowledge and reliance on the continent’s own experiences in finding solutions to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Managing Editor: COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor
Chief Editor: COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor​
ACCORD COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor
Source: Mawazo COVID-19 Survey Findings
Kari Mugo
Maina Wachira
Naliaka Odera
Trust between Citizens & Institutions

Reflections on the Impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s Higher Education and Research Sector

  • Kari Mugo
  • Naliaka Odera
  • Maina Wachira

Academic and research institutions find themselves tasked with learning how to adapt in real-time amid the COVID-19 pandemic that is significantly disrupting the global higher education sector. Most of the focus so far has been on western countries, leaving major gaps in our understanding of how Africa’s own centres of knowledge production are faring in this crisis. We know that the state of research and higher education on the continent has long been a cause for concern even before the COVID-19 crisis, and early indications show that the virus is exacerbating these vulnerabilities.

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Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images
Nana Aba Appiah Amfo
Trust between Citizens & Institutions

Living Through a Pandemic: An African University’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

  • Nana Aba Appiah Amfo

We watched in disbelief as COVID-19 emerged in China and ravaged parts of Europe and the Americas. Being a deeply religious country, we prayed and hoped that we would be insulated – after all, we were miraculously spared the 2014 Ebola crisis that hit a number of West African countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. Our hopes did not last beyond March 12, 2020, when our first two imported cases were reported. The third case recorded on March 14, 2020 was a University of Ghana student who had returned from a trip abroad. That hit home painfully, and we quickly had to act.

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Photo: Paul Kagame/Flickr
Photo: Paul Kagame/Flickr
Gaidi Faraj
Trust between Citizens & Institutions

The Impact of COVID-19 on Universities in Africa

  • Gaidi Faraj

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption and uncertainty to universities in Africa. It forced the higher education sector in Africa to make changes that were long overdue by magnifying existing challenges to students’ ability to engage with their learning. COVID-19 has forced universities to recognize that the future is now. For years, many universities and governments have been talking about the need for online education or blended learning models in which at least part of a student’s education is captured online through a learning management system. However, many schools have been slow to respond to this call. COVID-19 has forced universities to either adapt quickly to an online delivery system or to stall and risk obsolescence.

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Photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran
Photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran
Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Trust between Citizens & Institutions

The New Idea of Africa in the Context of COVID-19

  • Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

COVID-19 has created a global uncertainty: everyone everywhere is thinking about the possibilities of premature death. This uncertainty is upon all of us, but the African continent in particular, and the Global South in general, have been facing this uncertainty and this possibility of premature death for a very long time. Because of that, we will need to shift the geography of knowledge and even the biography of knowledge and begin to think about what is it that the Global South can offer us in dealing with this pandemic. What can we gain from indigenous African knowledges and epistemologies of the Global South? This argument arises because the Global South in general, and the African continent in particular, have some of the richest histories and experiences of dealing with epidemics and pandemics.

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