What do leadership, governance and management have in common? According to a recently released study by the Association of African Universities (AAU) commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development through the Higher Education for Development (HED) program they are three main obstacles to growth and sustainability in African Higher Education Institutions.
The Sub-Saharan Africa Higher Education Leadership Development (SAHEL) Study maps a strategy for institutional capacity building in senior- and middle-level management and leadership. The study identified the following challenges:
- Lack of clear strategy for leadership development
- Differences across countries and institutions regarding government appointments versus merit-based appointments
- Poor or lack of succession plans
- Lack of policies and/or commitment to implementing gender policies that support the advancement of women in leadership roles
“Leadership and administration capacity are the most critical challenges in the effort to make higher education in sub-Saharan Africa more effective and responsive to development, while ensuring its quality and relevance,” stated Teshome Alemneh, Africa program officer at HED. “Access to higher education in sub-Saharan Africa is expanding. This study has reaffirmed the importance of leadership and administration capacity and proposes several mechanisms of developing such capacities in Africa.”
The SAHEL study offers an analysis of AAU’s Leadership and Management Development programs and recommends strategies to build upon achievements by designing new elements that draw from the experiences of regional and international leadership training organizations.
AAU and HED presented the findings during AAU’s 13th General Conference held in Libreville, Gabon in May 2013. USAID and HED commissioned the study in an effort to gain a better understanding of the causes and current climate of leadership and management inefficiencies in tertiary education.