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Profs examine role of university in development

Sam Stryker | Thursday, December 3, 2009

Higher education is a key factor in global human development, two scholars said Wednesday.

Fr. Peter Kanyandago of Uganda Martyrs University and English Schooling and Society Professor Tamo Chattopadhay discussed the role of universities in development in a lecture at the Coleman-Morse Lounge.

Kanyandago focused on development in his native Uganda, but said the country represented many nations.

“I take Uganda as my background, but what I am going to say can be applied to other areas,” he said.

Of Uganda’s 33 million people, 42 percent are Catholic. He said there are 29 universities in Uganda, of which one, Uganda Martyrs University, is Catholic-based and 28 of the 29 universities have been founded since 1988.

But only three percent of the population of university age actually attends.

“About 57 percent of the students who qualified for university cannot attend due to the lack of space,” Kanyandago said.

He said higher education is key in this process of producing teachers, research and service to the community.

However, this development must come in an ethical manner according to Kanyandago.
“I believe that development cannot be genuine if it is not ethical, and ethics that do not promote human development are not of much use,” he said.

Kanyandago described a key term, “endogeneity,” which he defined as people using cultural and material resources to ensure relevance, self-reliance, ownership and participation.

He said that endogeneity is key in ethical development.

“Development that is imposed from the outside, however good it is, cannot be genuine,” he said.

Ethical development, he said, is more than just meeting basic needs. People must fulfill other needs in their life, such as the material, spiritual and emotional.

In addition to the lack of capacity, Kanyandago said there aren’t enough educational facilities, there are issues with irrelevant curricula and some universities question the quality of the higher education in Uganda.

Kanyandago said Ugandan universities must begin to focus on food security, hunger and famine, among other things.

“Only two universities have departments of agriculture and animal husbandry,” he said.

Kanyandago called for much more action to improve the quality of Ugandan education but remained optimistic about the situation.

“Despite what has been said, university education has contributed a lot to the development of Uganda,” he said.

Chattopadhay focused on what he called “the transnational perspective”.

He said education is becoming the hot topic in terms of development in nations.

“There is a big buzz on knowledge for development,” he said.

Chattopadhay said universities are therefore playing an increasingly important role in development as they are centers of knowledge. The irony, he said, is that the most challenged nations developmentally have the least university capacity.

This issue has been compounded by the focus on elementary education in developing nations.

“Much of the problem is that emphasis is placed on primary education at the cost of tertiary education,” he said.

Chattopadhay noted that despite these global issues, there is hope in the future.
“Think of the changes that are possible because we live in such an interconnected era,” he said.