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Mahmood Mamdani: African Universities Breed “Native Informers”, Not Researchers

Scholars in the MarketplaceNew statistics from Unesco have confirmed Mahmood Mamdani’s claim that African universities have poor research facilities, compared to international standards.

Earlier this year, Mamdani gave a talk at Makere University in which he called out the corrosive “consultancy culture” in African universities. Now, new statistics from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) reveal that the entire African continent contributes only 2.3 per cent of the world’s researchers.

Wachira Kigotho writes, “Unesco estimates on average, Africa has only 169 researchers per one million inhabitants. Apart from having the lowest density of researchers in the world, investment in research and development in Africa stands at 0.9 per cent.”

A leading East African political scientist, Prof Mahmood Mamdani, who is the director of Makerere University’s Institute of Social Research has put universities in Sub-Saharan Africa in the dock by accusing them of not creating researchers but churning out native informers to national and international non-governmental organisations.

Addressing academics and students recently at Makerere, Mamdani said academic research and higher education in most African universities is controlled and dominated by a corrosive culture of consultancy. “Today, intellectual life in universities has been reduced to bare-bones classroom activity while academic extra-curricular seminars and workshops have migrated to hotels,” said Mamdani.

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