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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

South Africa: Higher Education

South Africa: Higher Education
Date distributed (ymd): 981105
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +US policy focus+ +economy/development+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains a press release on a Michigan State University conference on higher education partnerships with South Africa, held in October 1998. The conference web site referenced in this posting contains links to the conference agenda, summaries of panel sessions, audio files of some speeches and an extensive annotated resource section on South African higher education, U.S./South African relations, and related topics.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


240 Higher Education Representatives Meet to Discuss Partnerships with South Africa

For additional information:

Moses Turner (517) 353-6676

David Wiley (517) 353-1700

October 22, 1998 --

Representatives from half of South Africa's 37 universities and technikons met at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan from October 18-21 to discuss building academic partnerships with people from 70 U.S. colleges, universities, and community colleges and five institutions in Canada and Europe.

Naledi Pandor, Deputy Chair of the National Council of Provinces (the upper house of the South African Parliament) told the 240 conference participants that South African universities must seek ways to be engaged in the transformation of the whole society and that higher education partnerships should seek to meet this challenge as well.

Teboho Moja, Special Advisor to the South African Minister of Education, challenged the paradigm of internationalizing education and argued instead for globalizing education. It is necessary to acknowledge the inequalities between institutions of the North and South so that it is possible to move toward greater equity - by building partnerships based on mutuality, empowerment, and shared values.

The interest on the part of U.S. institutions in partnerships with South Africa is very high, but Colin Bundy, Vice Chancellor of the University of Witwatersrand, noted that institutions must ask why they wish to enter into a particular partnership agreement. They must be prepared to face the rapid change occurring in both South African higher education institutions and in South African society as a whole.

The importance of reciprocity between South African and overseas partners emerged repeatedly at the conference, entitled Academic Partnerships with South Africans for Mutual Capacity Building.

Lou Anna Simon, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Michigan State University, described benefits that could accrue to U.S. institutions from partnerships with South AfricaWe want to join you as co-equal partners in conducting research and to train the next generation of post-graduate students - yours and ours - to address the pressing global issues that affect all of us. . . None of us can do this work alone, and we need an increasing coordination of our efforts.

Richard Fehnel, Ford Foundation representative in Johannesburg, suggested that partnering institutions that succeed in addressing the challenges of development in South Africa will have a global market for their work because the problems of development that South Africa faces are common to most of the world.

Several case studies of existing partnerships were presented at the conference and demonstrated that there is no one size fits all model for U.S.-South African partnerships, as Betty Overton of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation pointed out. Some partnerships can be based on mutual benefits to both institutions, while others will be designed to address major needs of some historically disadvantaged institutions in such areas as undertrained staff and inadequate management.

Repeatedly, conference participants made analogies between a good partnership and a good marriage. Both require the partners to listen carefully to each other, to respond with seriousness, and to make a commitment.

Brian Figaji, Vice Chancellor of Peninsula Technikon (near Cape Town) and Chair of the Committee of Technikon Principals, challenged South African and overseas institutions to share more broadly the benefits of existing partnerships by such means as notifying nearby institutions of visitors with expertise.

Many participants, including representatives of funding agencies such as the Ford Foundation and W.G. Kellogg Foundation, urged that partnerships be organized through academic consortia of South African institutions. Noting that South Africa is in a powerful position within the region, Professor Jonathan Jansen, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Durban-Westville, urged that partnerships involving South African and U.S. institutions also include an institution in another Southern African country.

Ensuring that the U.S. partners are diverse was urged by President William DeLauder of Delaware State University. He argued that it is important to include historically Black universities and colleges (HBCUs) in partnerships with South Africa because their experiences are similar. Important lessons can be drawn from the situation and development of both HBCUs in the U.S. and the historically disadvantaged institutions established for Black students during the apartheid era in South Africa. Sixteen HBCUs participated in the conference.

Conference Chair Moses Turner, Professor of Educational Administration at MSU, expressed satisfaction that conference participants felt that the objectives of the conference had been met, namely to assess the current status of academic partnerships and their strengths and weaknesses, evaluate new models of partnerships, and explore the financial realities of establishing and maintaining partnerships.

Three South African higher education associations co-sponsored the conference: the Committee of Technikon Principals, the Historically Disadvantaged Institutions Forum, and the South African Universities Vice Chancellors Association.

Michigan State University was the host and U.S. sponsor of the conference. More than 50 MSU faculty have developed working relationships with colleagues in South African higher education institutions. MSU also is developing a study abroad program with University of Durban-Westville in South Africa. The university has a long history of partnerships with universities in Africa, including extensive linkages with universities in Zimbabwe, Senegal, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

MSU also announced a new website Resources on South African Higher Education for finding South African institutions, education organizations, transformation documents and debates, and government programs. U.S. government programs and study abroad opportunities in South Africa also are listed. See The conference web site at includes audio recordings of several speeches at the conference.


The Resources on South African Higher Education web site ( not only contains extensive annotated listings of web links South African higher education and U.S. links to that sector in particular. The annotated links also provide a well-organized guide to on-line resources on U.S./South African relations in other sectors and on study abroad opportunities in other African countries as well as South Africa.

The description on the home page of the web site reads in part:

"This website is designed to support higher education in South Africa and people working to transform it. There are links here to most South African universities, technikons, and several higher education consortia -- as well as numerous research and policy documents from the South African Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET), Centre for Science Development (CSD of HSRC), Department of Education, and other organizations. These resources can foster partnerships among tertiary education institutions in South Africa and with those in other countries, and in forums such as the U.S./S.A. Bi-National Commission."

Sections on the site include:

Higher Education Transformation in South Africa

Tertiary Education Institutions in South Africa

South African Higher Education Organizations

South African Government Documents and Other Resources

U.S. Government Programs on South Africa

Study Abroad Programs in South Africa and other African countries

MSU Programs and Linkages with South Africa

General Information Sources on South Africa

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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