The Third HEFAALA Symposium
Academic Collaboration in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the Post-COVID World
27 and 28 April 2022 | Addis Ababa | ETHIOPIA
Report on the Symposium
Third Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America (HEFAALA III)
Academic Collaboration in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the Post- COVID World
Building on lessons learned, knowledge and information generated, and formal and informal networking opportunities created during the last two iterations, the third HEFAALA Symposium created a high-profile platform for scholars, researchers, academics, post-graduate students, university leaders and officials from the Global South to be able to deliberate on key issues of relevance and significance from their national and continental contexts as well as discourse vantage points. The forum also engaged Northern players to encourage enriched dialogue that could inform policy and shape discourse.
Under the general theme of “Academic Collaboration in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the Post- COVID World”, the 3rd HEFAALA Symposium targeted on addressing the following critical questions:
- How and to what extent is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the typology and productivity of international academic collaboration in Africa and elsewhere in the Global South?
- How could academic collaborations, often cited as exhibiting unequal relationships, be transformed to foster more equitable partnerships through virtual and other modalities?
- What recommendations can be made to enhance South-South collaboration in response to Covid-19, through the emergence of new forms of educational delivery and research?
In order to answer these questions, HEFAALA III pursued two primary categories of scholarly endeavor: academic conference and background research papers and publications.
The conference took place on the 27th and 28th of April 2022 at the Inter Luxury Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in conjunction with the 20th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa, hosted by St Mary’s University. It was held in hybrid format where both speakers and attendees participated in-person and virtually, and it attracted more than 35 speakers, presenters and panelists, and about 379 participants from 43 countries around the world. About 47% of the participants were in-person, coming from 21 different (mainly African) countries.
The two days events constituted opening remarks, keynote addresses, panel discussions and open mic discussion by participants.
In opening remarks, the convenor, Prof. Damtew Teferra of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa (INHEA), introduced the overall event and highlighted the objectives and format of the HEFAALA III conference. He acknowledged the contribution of supporting organizations and partners of the events, including the Association of African Universities, African Union Commission, the University of Kwazulu Natal, the Boston College Center for International Higher Education, and St. Mary’s University, as well as Carnegie Corporation of New York. Subsequently, messages were also delivered by representatives of some of the partner organizations – i.e., Association of African Universities, African Union Commission, St. Mary’s university and Ethiopian Ministry of Education. The partnership between INHEA and St. Mary’s University with Mastercard Foundation made possible the organization of Masterclasses for close to 30 delegates drawn from around Africa.
Three keynote addresses were delivered by three eminent scholars following which respondents reflected on the key points raised. The topics and the speakers include:
- Academic Collaboration: Emerging Issues and Looming Challenges, Prof. N.V. Varghese, Vice-Chancellor, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, India;
- Higher Education Partnership in Response to Addressing Development Challenges in Africa, Dr. Teshome Yizengaw, Former State Minister of Education, Indiana University, USA; and
- Academic Collaboration in the Post-Covid Era: Challenges and Opportunities, Prof. Goolam Mohamedbhai, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Mauritius, Mauritius.
Panel discussions were set in four sessions addressing different themes related to academic collaboration in the Global South. Each attempted to answer specific questions derived from the main questions above. While HEFAALA itself and the panel discussions during the conference were framed to help articulate voices from the Global South, Northern players were also included in the discussions for a more fruitful engagement. The following are the thematic panels and the list of panelists.
- Panel I: Academic Collaboration: Imperatives and Modalities
- Panel II: Impact and Relevance of Academic/Research Collaboration
- Panel III: Mobility and Intellectual Diaspora
- Panel IV: Challenges and Opportunities of Academic Collaboration
Conclusion and way forward
This final section of the symposium was dedicated to summing up some of the key points from the two days discussions and suggest ways forward to build on the work done so far under the HEFAALA. Perspectives from the three regions were presented via designated speakers before the floor was open for comments from the broader audience. Participants articulated key takeaways and lauded the strengths HEFAALA and the organizers demonstrated, which was also reflected in the post conference evaluation. Among other things the discussion also highlighted the following areas for future consideration by HEFAALA:
- Examining how under privileged (such as post-conflict) higher education systems can benefit from collaborations.
- Creating a dedicated platform for advancing young and emerging scholars;
- Exploring further the issue of relevance in academic collaboration, particularly from the perspective of Southern partners;
- Improving the visibility of the program, including expanding the scope of the journal (IJAHE), launching a book series and promoting virtual events on academic collaboration;
- Promoting cross-continental studies and dialogue on the major themes of the Forum;
- Studying quality of education, particularly in graduate programs, and how the integration of technology augments quality; and
Research papers and upcoming publications
HEFAALA commissioned research papers aligned with the different subthemes of the conference and addressing the various questions outlined above. Enriched by peer review and discussions at the conference, these papers are currently under development for publication in the upcoming special issue of the International Journal of African Higher Education at the end of 2022.
The conference was covered by University World News, presenting a broad summary of discussion points highlighted under the title: HEFAALA takes stock of academic collaboration post-COVID. An analytical commentary on one of the forum’s topics – diaspora engagement – was also published in the same outlet. A piece focusing on yet another theme of the forum – relevance of collaborations – is scheduled for publication in the next issue of International Higher Education.