Higher Education and Society

Institutions of education, and the system of which they are a part, face a host of unprecedented challenges from forces in society that affect and are influenced by these very institutions and their communities of learners and educators. Among these forces are sweeping demographic changes, shrinking provincial budgets, revolutionary advances in information and telecommunication technologies, globalization, competition from new educational providers, market pressures to shape educational and scholarly practices toward profit-driven ends, and increasing demands and pressures for fundamental changes in public policy and public accountability relative to the role of higher education in addressing pressing issues of communities and the society at large. Anyone of these challenges would be significant on their own, but collectively they increase the complexity and difficulty for education to sustain or advance the fundamental work of serving the public good.

Through a forum on education, we can agree to: Strengthening the relationship between higher education and society will require a broad-based effort that encompasses all of education, not just individual institutions, departments and associations.

Piecemeal solutions can only go so far; strategies for change must be informed by a shared vision and a set of common objectives. A “movement” approach for change holds greater promise for transforming academic culture than the prevailing “organizational” approach.

Mobilizing change will require strategic alliances, networks, and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders within and beyond education.

The Common Agenda is specifically designed to support a “movement” approach to change by encouraging the emergence of strategic alliances among individuals and organizations who care about the role of higher education in advancing the ideals of a diverse democratic system through education practices, relationships and service to society.

A Common Agenda

The Common Agenda is intended to be a “living” document and an open process that guides collective action and learning among committed partners within and outside of higher education. As a living document, the Common Agenda is a collection of focused activity aimed at advancing civic, social, and cultural roles in society. This collaboratively created, implemented, and focused Common Agenda respects the diversity of activity and programmatic foci of individuals, institutions, and networks, as well as recognizes the common interests of the whole. As an open process, the Common Agenda is a structure for connecting work and relationships around common interests focusing on the academic role in serving society. Various modes of aliening and amplifying the common work within and beyond education will be provided within the Common Agenda process.

This approach is understandably ambitious and unique in its purpose and application. Ultimately, the Common Agenda challenges the system of higher education, and those who view education as vital to addressing society’s pressing issues, to act deliberately, collectively, and clearly on an evolving and significant set of commitments to society. Currently, four broad issue areas are shaping the focus of the Common Agenda: 1) Building public understanding and support for our civic mission and actions; 2) Cultivating networks and partnerships; 3) Infusing and reinforcing the value of civic responsibility into the culture of higher education institutions; and 4) Embedding civic engagement and social responsibility in the structure of the education system

VISION We have a vision of higher education that nurtures individual prosperity, institutional responsiveness and inclusivity, and societal health by promoting and practicing learning, scholarship, and engagement that respects public needs. Our universities are proactive and responsive to pressing social, ethical, and economic problems facing our communities and greater society. Our students are people of integrity who embrace diversity and are socially responsible and civilly engaged throughout their lives.

MISSION The purpose of the Common Agenda is to provide a framework for organizing, guiding and communicating the values and practices of education relative to its civic, social and economic commitments to a diverse democratic system.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

I believe social justice, ethics, educational equity, and societal change for positive effects are fundamental to the work of higher education. We consider the relationship between communities and education institutions to be based on the values of equally, respect and reciprocity, and the work in education to be interdependent with the other institutions and individuals in society.

We will seek and rely on extensive partnerships with all types of institutions and devoted individuals inside and outside of higher education.

We realize the interconnection of politics, power and privilege. The Common Agenda is not for higher education to self-serve, but to “walk the talk” relative to espoused public goals. We understand the Common Agenda as a dynamic living document, and expect the activities it encompasses to change over time.

THE COMMON AGENDA FRAMEWORK The general framework for the common agenda is represented in the following diagram. It is clear that while goals and action items are organized and aliened within certain issues areas, there is considerable overlap and complimentarity among the issues, goals and action items. Also, following each action item are names of individuals who committed to serve as “point persons” for that particular item. A list of “point persons,” with their organizational affiliation(s) is included with the common agenda.

ISSUES

ISSUE 1: MISSION AND ACTIONS

Public understanding more and more equates higher education benefits with acquiring a “good job” and receiving “higher salaries.” To understand and support the full benefits of higher education the public and higher education leaders need to engage in critical and honest discussions about the role of higher education in society. Goal: Develop a common language that resonates both inside and outside the institution. Action Items: Develop a common language and themes about our academic role and responsibility to the public good, through discussions with a broader public.

Collect scholarship on public good, examine themes and identify remaining questions. Develop a national awareness of the importance of higher education for the public good through the development of marketing efforts.

Goal: Promote effective and broader discourse. Action Items: Raise public awareness about the institutional diversity within and between higher education institutions.

Identify strategies for engaging alumni associations for articulating public good and building bridges between higher education and the various private and public sector companies. Develop guidelines of discourse to improve the quality of dialogue on every level of society. Organize a series of civil dialogues with various public sectors about higher education and the public good.

ISSUE 2: DEVELOPING NETWORKS AND PARTNERSHIPS

Approaching complex issues such as the role of higher education in society that requires a broad mix of partners to create strategies and actions that encompass multiple valued perspectives and experiences.

Broad partnerships to strengthen the relationship between higher education and society involves working strategically with those within and outside of higher education to achieve mutual goals on behalf of the public good.

Goal: Create broad and dispersed communication systems and processes.

Action Items:

Create an information and resource network across higher education associations Create information processes that announce relevant conferences, recruit presenters and encourage presentations in appropriate national conferences Develop opportunities for information sharing and learning within and between various types of postsecondary institutions (e.g. research-centered communities).

Goal: Create and support strategic alliances and diverse collaborations.

Action Items: Establish and support on-going partnerships and collaborations between higher education associations and the external community (e.g. civic organizations, legislators, community members) Explore with the public how to employ the role of arts in advancing higher education for the public good Promote collaboration between higher education and to address access, retention, and graduation concerns

ISSUE 3: INSTILLING AND REINFORCING THE VALUE OF CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY INTO THE CULTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

Education should attend to the implicit and explicit consequences of its work, and reexamine “what counts” to integrate research, teaching and service for the public good to the core working of the institution.

Goal: Emphasize civic skills and leadership development in the curriculum and co-curriculum.

Action Items: Develop and implement a curriculum in colleges and universities that promote civic engagement of students Create co-curricular student and community programs for leadership and civic engagement development Develop learning opportunities, inside and outside of the classroom, that promote liberty, democratic responsibility, social justice and knowledge of the economic system Develop student leadership and service opportunities that focus on ethical behavior Teach graduate students organizing and networking skills, and encourage student leadership and Diversity education

Goal: Foster a deeper commitment to the public good.

Action Items: Work with faculty on communication skills and languages to describe their engagement with the public, and educate faculty for the common good Identify models for promotion and tenure standards Identify models for faculty development

Goal: Identify, recognize, and support engaged scholarship.

Action Items: Identify and disseminate models and exemplars of scholarship on the public good Encourage the participation in community research Help institutions call attention to exemplary outreach. Establish a capacity building effort for institutions

Goal: Bring graduate education into alignment with the civic mission.

Action Items: Work with disciplinary associations to hold dialogues on ways graduate student training can incorporate public engagement, involvement and service Promote “civic engagement” within academic and professional disciplines according to the disciplines’ definition of “civic engagement” Incorporate the concept of higher education for the public good into current graduate education reform efforts

ISSUE 4: EMBEDDING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE STRUCTURE OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM

Promoting the public benefits of higher education requires system efforts beyond institutions to intentionally embed values of civic engagement and social responsibility in governance practices, policy decisions, and educational processes.

Goal: Align governing structures and administrative strategies.

Action Items: Develop ways to improve student and the community involvement in the governance and decision making process of educational institutions. Identify and promote ways for institutions to improve involvement with the public and the practice of democracy within their own institution. Establish public good/civic engagement units that orchestrate this work throughout institutions.

Goal: Publicly recognize and support valuable engagement work.

Action Items: Offer public awards that reward institutions with demonstrable track record in serving the public good in order to encourage institutionalization of performance around the public good and civic engagement.

Develop a comprehensive inventory of funding sources, association activities, initiatives, and exemplary practices that advance the public good. Identify, recognize, and support early career scholars who choose to do research on higher education and its public role in society.

Goal: Ensure that assessment and accreditation processes include civic engagement and social responsibility.

Action Items: Identify service for the public good as a key component in provincial and federal educational plans (e.g. Master Plans, provincial budgets, and professional associations).

Bring higher education associations and legislators together to broaden current definition of student outcomes and achievement, and develop a plan for assessment.

Develop strategies and processes to refocus system-wide planning, accreditation and evaluation agendas to consider criteria assessing the social, public benefits of education.

Goal: Cultivate stronger ties between the university, federal and provincial government.

Action Items: Develop a 2-year implementation plan that joins the university rector / Pro-rector and Director with provincial legislators to engage in an assessment of the needs of the public by province Host a series of dialogues between trustees and provincial legislators to discuss the role of universities and public policy in advancing public good at a local, provincial, and national level.

Doctoral Qualifications In UK Higher Education

UK universities increasingly perceive a doctorate as an essential pre-requisite for new academics, according to data from the High Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the overall numbers of UK academic staff holding doctorates rose from 48% to just over 50%. The prevalence of academics with doctorates is not, however, even across the UK higher education sector. In the case of the older UK universities and those with established reputations as ‘research intensive’ institutions, the percentage holding doctorates in 2009-10 was 62.7%, compared to a far lower 29% in the so-called ‘new universities’ formed in the UK after 1992.[1]

It is thought that the trend towards the holding of doctorates among academic staff might well increase as university tuition fees in England rise threefold in 2012 to a maximum of £9000 per year. This development, it is suggested, may result in institutions seeking to enhance their perceived quality by attracting greater numbers of staff with doctorates and advertising these numbers in marketing materials etc., thus emulating behaviour observed in at least some American institutions. This trend may therefore become part of a ‘race to the top’ between universities increasingly trying to foster an image of high quality in an increasingly competitive and marketized higher education sector. However, as at least one prominent thinker on UK high education notes, the relationship between the numbers of academics holding doctorates and the quality of teaching students receive is not a straightforward one.

Moreover, it is clear that there are some institutions, perhaps especially among the newer universities, for whom the benefits of this trend would not be clear. Many such institutions offer courses of study in areas such as professional vocational education, where teaching of these subjects is delivered by those having extensive ‘real world’ experience, perhaps in professional practice or in industry, and yet who may not in many cases hold high level qualifications such as doctorates. It is seems possible, therefore, that such institutions may be disadvantaged by any further moves to equate ‘quality’, broadly construed, with numbers of staff holding doctorates.

Nonetheless, Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of UK larger research intensive universities, seems keen to further the reputation of these universities where, she contends, the great majority of academic staff hold doctorates, describing the numbers of academic staff who do not as being ‘very much in a tiny minority’. Dr Piatt seemingly regards this also as essential to the ‘first class’ teaching and learning experience these universities provide. [2]

Whilst it is certainly the case that holding a doctorate will enhance an individual’s prospects for securing an academic career, the contingent nature of the relationship between such degrees and the provision of high quality teaching for students should be recognized. Moreover, whilst pressures for academic staff to hold doctorates might increase as a result of the forthcoming increases in UK university tuition fees, the numbers of those receiving doctorates may come under pressure, as heavily indebted students perhaps come under increasing pressure to enter the jobs market rather than undertake postgraduate study.

[1] Data reported in THE, 17.02.11, pp.6-7

[2] Ibid.

Institutional Reforms In The Higher Education Sector Of Mozambique And Ethical Issues

The need to eradicate poverty through increased literacy

One of the central goals defined by the Government of Mozambique in its long-term development strategy is “poverty reduction through labour-intensive economic growth”. The highest priority is assigned to reduce poverty in rural areas, where 90 percent of poor Mozambicans live, and also in urban zones. The Government recognizes also that, for this development strategy on poverty eradication to succeed, expansion and improvement in the education system are critically important elements in both long-term and short-term perspectives.

In the long term, universal access to education of acceptable quality is essential for the development
of Mozambique´s human resources, and the economic growth will depend to a significant extend on the education and training of the labour force. It is very important to develop a critical mass of well trained and highly qualified workforce which in turn will improve the overall literacy, intellectual development, training capacity and technical skills in various areas of the country’s economic and industrial development.

In the short term, increased access and improved quality in basic education are powerful mechanisms for wealth redistribution and the promotion of social equity. This policy is consistent with the provisions of the new Constitution of Mozambique adopted on 16 November 2004, in its articles 113 and 114 which deal respectively with education and higher education. Around the year 1990, the Government of Mozambique decided to change its social, economic and political orientation system from the centrally-planned system inherited from the communist era and adopted a western-style of free market system. At the same time, it was also decided to adopt fundamental changes in the education programmes. Since drastic changes and wide ranging effects were resulting from the adoption of the new economic and political orientation, it was necessary to provide new guidelines and rules governing the management of institutions of higher education.

The struggle continues: “a luta continua” !

The economic and political changes were progressively introduced with success through legislative and regulatory reforms. However, it has not been very easy to evenly change rules of social and cultural behaviour. In particular, vulnerable younger generations are the most affected by the rapid changes in society, while the reference model and values they expect from elder people in the modern Mozambican society seem to be shifting very fast. And in some instances, there seem to be no model at all. The new wave of economic liberalism in Mozambique, better defined by the popular concept of “deixa andar”, literally meaning “laisser-faire”, was mistakenly adopted as the guiding principle in the areas of social, cultural and education development.

The “laisser-faire” principle is better understood by economists and entrepreneurs in a system of open market and free entrepreneurship, under which the Government’s intervention is reduced to exercising minimum regulatory agency. The recent considerable economic growth realized by the Government of Mozambique (10% of successive growth index over four years) is attributed mainly to this free market policy. This principle should be carefully differentiated from “laisser-aller” which, in French language, rather means lack of discipline in academic, economic, social and cultural environments.
Reforming higher education institutions represents a real challenge, both at the institutional and pedagogic levels, not only in Mozambique, but elsewhere and in particular in African countries faced with the problem of “acculturation”. The youth seeking knowledge opportunities in national universities, polytechnics and higher institutes, where students are somehow left on their own, having no longer any need to be under permanent supervision of their parents or teachers, are disoriented. Since reforms in higher education institutions take longer than in any other institutional environment, it is necessary indeed to adopt adequate transitional measures to respond to urgent need of the young generations.

This essay reviews current trends and the recent historical background of higher education institutions of Mozambique. It argues against the adoption of the classical model of higher education from European and other western systems. In its final analysis, it finds that there is need to include ethical and deontology (social, cultural and moral education) components as priority sectors within the curriculum in higher education institutions, with a view to instill in the students and lecturers positive African values in general, and in particular, national Mozambican models. It is rejecting the neo-liberal thinking, which proposes that students in higher education institutions should be allowed to enjoy unlimited academic, social and intellectual uncontrolled independence, in conformity with western classical education and cultural orientation. It advocates for critical thinking and brainstorming on key issues towards the development of positive cultural and ethical models in higher education institutions which could be used to promote knowledge development and poverty eradication in the country’s rural areas and urban zones affected by unemployment, pandemics and economic precariousness.

The colonial legacy and its cultural impact on higher education in Mozambique.

Many experts have described the Mozambican mother of higher education as an institution for colonialists and “assimilados” . The first institution of higher education in Mozambique was established by the Portuguese government in 1962, soon after the start of the African wars of independence. It was called the General University Studies of Mozambique (Estudos Gerais Universitários de Moçambique EGUM). In 1968, it was renamed Lourenço Marques University. The university catered for the sons and daughters of Portuguese colonialists. Although the Portuguese government preached non-racism and advocated the assimilation of its African subjects to the Portuguese way of life, the notorious deficiencies of the colonial education system established under the Portuguese rule ensured that very few Africans would ever succeed in reaching university level. However, many educated African were led to adopt the colonial lifestyle.

In spite of Portugal’s attempts to expand African educational opportunities in the late 1960s and early 1970s, only about 40 black Mozambican students – less than 2 per cent of the student body -had entered the University of Lourenço Marques by the time of independence in 1975. The state and the university continued to depend heavily on the Portuguese and their descendants. Even the academic curriculum was defined according to the needs and policies defined long ago by the colonial power.
Soon after Independence in June 1975, the Government of Mozambique, from the FRELIMO party, adopted a Marxist-Leninist orientation and a centrally planned economy. The educational system was nationalized, and the university was renamed after Dr. Eduardo Mondlane, the first president of FRELIMO.

Many cadres trained in Portugal and other European and American universities came also with their own educational and cultural background. Apart from the Eduardo Mondlane University, new public and private universities and institutes were established. These include the Pedagogic University, the ISRI, the Catholic University, ISPU, ISCTEM and ISUTC. Most of these institutions adopted a curriculum clearly modeled on the classical European model. There is still need to integrate African traditional values in the course profiles offered and research programmes developed by these institutions.

The traditional role of a university is to enlighten and serve as a reference within the society: “illuminatio et salus populi”. Today, Mozambique is one of the most culturally and racially diversified society of Africa. This diversity should be considered as a cultural treasure for the nation. It has become however apparent that it’s more a “Babel Tower case”, as no unified Mozambican values appear to develop from this wide variety. With the creation of new public and private universities and new faculties, it would become easier to increase a critical mass of university lecturers and academic professionals, who would in their turn, influence the society, creating and instilling national positive values and ethical principles of conduct in the younger generations. According to many lecturers and students contacted at UEM, Universidade Pedagogica UP and UDM, the impact of higher education on the development of positive academic, scientific, social and cultural values in Mozambique is yet to be felt.

It is however necessary to acknowledge the importance of newly introduced community-based education programmes in some institutions. For instance the emphasis on community and service has guided curriculum development at the Catholic University; its course in agronomy (Cuamba) concentrates on peasant and family farming systems and leans heavily on research and outreach within local farming communities. The CU course in medicine (developed in collaboration with the University of Maastricht) which concentrates on teaching medicine, was particularly deemed appropriate for the rural and urban poor populations of Mozambique, as it is more based on problem-solving and focuses much more on traditional issues.

New Reforms in higher education institutions with a more participative approach

Mozambique is one of few countries in Africa where a new generation of leadership has stepped forward to articulate a vision for their institutions, inspiring confidence among those involved in higher education development and the modernization of their universities. In a series of case studies sponsored and published by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa , it was confirmed that African universities covered by the studies have widely varying contexts and traditions. They are engaged in broad reform, examining and revising their planning processes, introducing new techniques of financial management, adopting new technologies, reshaping course structures and pedagogy, and more important, reforming practices of governance based in particular on their own contexts and traditions.

Important institutional reforms concerning the strategic planning experiences of the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) were initiated and implemented so far. Two strategic planning cycles were developed, the first in 1990 and the second one in 1996 / 97. The second one was meant to adapting to the impacts of newly adopted multi-party democracy, market competition, and globalization. Whereas the first reform cycle was the result of high level officials at the University, the second one was generated using a participatory methodology deemed to be more effective in involving the university staff in the process.

It is important to listen to everyone, and to be seen as listening. We are also convinced that various components of the population in Mozambique should be involved in the next phases of the process with a view to define what kind of education orientation the population would wish to have for their children.
There is important progress but yet limited academic impact on the development of the society
Considerable progress has been so far made in post-independence Mozambique. After the initial problems caused by the long years of civil war and then the long efforts necessitated by the adjustment to a market-driven economy and a multi-party democratic political order, Mozambique is now considered to have a higher education system that offers a wide variety of course options and extensive research opportunities. However, a major weakness highlighted by many observers is that all the institutions remain basically concentrated in the capital city of Maputo and its neighboring provinces. It is argued that they serve only a limited fraction of the Mozambican population, and are destined to train the elite of prominent people in government and in the professions, industry and commerce. It is also alleged that the majority of the students who succeed in entering public and private institutions of higher education are from relatively rich families.

It is finally emphasized that nearly 80 per cent of university students in Mozambique use Portuguese as their principal means of communication, thus strengthening the perception of establishing, reproducing and consolidating a hereditary elite, with model values copied on western societies. In response to this challenge, it was suggested that the government should encourage the emergence of new and non-traditional HEIs closer to the local communities, able to respond more rapidly and flexibly to the demands and expectations of the public and private sectors for a high quality trained workforce, while addressing both regional and socioeconomic imbalances in the country.

In our final analysis, we find that the impact of higher education institutions on the development and dissemination of traditional African social and cultural values would be very limited for a long period. As long as the access and feed-back from all levels of the society and regions will be left out of the core interaction with the highly educated elite and higher education institutions mainly concentrated in Maputo, the role of universities in promoting African positive values, a culture of academic ethics and deontology in the entire national society will be very limited.

The process of “Nation building” needs to rely on a strong academic support. One of the Government’s main constitutional commitments is to promote the development of the national culture and identity (article 115 of the 2004 Constitution). It is clear that many institutions, for instance the television, are actively promoting cultural diversity through various means. Institutions of higher education should be seen doing more, in particular starting with the students themselves and the academic community members, who are expected to be the light of the society. Such actions would include the integration of courses on ethics and deontology, and develop a wide-ranging variety of education models that reprove negative behavior and promote positive values. Our recommendation is that the Government should for example instruct public universities and other higher education institutions, to appoint “Ethics and Deontology Committees” at the level of their University Councils and within all autonomous faculties.

Bibliography

-Fry, Peter and Utui, Rogéro (1999), The Strategic Planning Experience at Eduardo Mondlane University, ADEA Working Paper on Higher Education, ADEA, Association for the Development of Education in Africa, Paris.

-Mouzinho, Mário ; Fry, Peter ; Levey, Lisbeth and Chilundo, Arlindo (2001), Higher Education in Mozambique: A Case study, The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, New York University, New York