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Decolonization of Higher Education in East Africa

Chacha Nyaigotti Chacha, Kenyan Commission for University Education

November 16, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 144 Louis A. Simpson Building

Program in African Studies; Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

Higher Education in the East African Countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda was a creation of the British colonial government right from the 1920s when Makerere College was established as a tertiary institution that trained a few East and Central African students to prepare them to take jobs in support of the economic growth of the United Kingdom. The curriculum that was followed in the Higher Education Institutions in East Africa was a replica of the one that was being taught in Higher Education Institutions in the United Kingdom. In this presentation, I will seek to demonstrate that since independence in the ’60s, Higher Education in East Africa has experienced an exponential growth of Universities and other tertiary institutions. I will trace this transformation while underscoring how the development of Higher Education in East Africa contributed to the struggle for freedom and independence from colonial bondage. I will highlight how the curriculum has evolved allowing both the learners and the lecturers to engage in introspection as they go on to decolonize their minds and culture.
Tracing the history of University education from the 1920s, I will demonstrate that during the colonial period, the driving force behind the development of Education in general and Higher Education, in particular, was to ensure that there would be an adequate supply of a trained human capital that could be deployed in a strategic economic undertaking whose proceeds would be repatriated to the home country of the colonizers. I will also discuss the question of the curriculum, language, and culture in an attempt to indicate that the use of English in the three countries continues to be a pertinent question that scholars are debating to date.

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