SENEGAL: Academic urges African research upgrade

African countries must upgrade their research activities if they are to succeed in developing themselves, said Professor Libasse Diop of the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar recently.

To achieve this, education at all levels must be increased, he told a conference held at the University Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis on 'Science and development: a necessary hybridisation', reported by the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise of Dakar.

"Countries which have leapt ahead are those where higher education has developed through great universities," he said. But to make the most of the potential of which Africa had an abundance, first it was necessary to increase the number of schools, high schools and universities, APS reported him saying.

Senegal was too far from the minimum levels demanded by institutions specialising in development studies to hope for the economic takeoff that some Asian countries had achieved by going to acquire knowledge in the United States after making efforts by investing in the educational sector, Diop said.

Judging as derisory the proportion of the population who had taken higher education in under-developed countries such as Senegal, he called for a rethink of universities' research activities.

Research made the difference between university and high school, said Diop, calling on university and state authorities to make greater resources available to give a boost to development.

South-South cooperation also constituted a "way of salvation" for African countries which had at their disposal, through internet, an "extraordinary means" to make short cuts to reach the same level as developed countries, said Diop.

He urged African students educated abroad to return to promote the emergence of an environment favourable to economic development, and to pay back their country which had financed their studies.

Diop also believed that ethical values must guide politicians, who must set a good example by rational and judicious use of the meagre resources at their disposal, reported APS.