Projects, Processes, Politics
Edited by Susan L. Robertson, Kris Olds, Roger Dale and Que Anh Dang
Chapter 4: Inter-regional higher education arena: the transposition of European instruments in Africa
If Western countries filter global references through their national preferences, and particularly so in the education sector, this is not the case for African countries, whose references are largely drawn from the global context (Khelfaoui, 2009; Copans, 2001). African countries are developing their education policies within the framework of global references or frames, held to be universal, set out by specific norm setting instituions. The access to the definition and the negotiation of global references in education will be provided only through participation in, or membership of international organizations, such as the European Commission (EC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). National and local actors will no longer have influence downstream of the decision-making process. The only option left to them, when confronted with the constraints of implementation, is to use cunning to circumvent global references (Imaniriho, 2015). Attention has been drawn to the role of organizations such as the Pôle de Dakar of the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO), in the definition of educational policies in primary education in Africa (Lewandowski, 2011). This chapter looks at the ways in which global references in the higher education (HE) sector, which have impacts at global, regional and local levels, are set by organizations such as the Bologna Policy Forum and the European Commission. Taking the Bologna Process as a case study, this chapter examines both the manner in which global normative references are disseminated in the HE sector in Africa and their future effects on the local HE landscape. The impact of the Bologna Process as a HE governance mechanism has not been limited to Europe. It has been impossible to ignore the so-called success story of the Bologna Process amongst both Western and non-Western actors (Robertson, 2010). Since 2003, the EC has been deploying an ‘explicit “extra-regional” globalizing strategy’ (ibid.) from which African HE institutions, faced with the risk of being excluded, cannot escape. African HE institutions are forced to undergo structural reforms, whose immediate effects are perhaps not as powerful as the longer-term effects on the local HE landscape.
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