Election Management Bodies in West Africa: A comparative study of the contribution of electoral commissions to the strengthening of democracy

This report is an in-depth study of electoral commissions in six countries of West Africa – Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone – assessing their contribution in strengthening political participation in the region. As institutions that apply the rules governing elections, electoral management bodies (EMBs) have occupied, over the last two decades, the heart of discussion and practice on the critical question of effective citizen participation in the public affairs of their countries. The way in which they are established and the effectiveness of their operations have continued to preoccupy those who advocate for competitive elections, while reforms to the EMBs have taken centre stage in more general political reforms. Election Management Bodies in West Africa thus responds to the evident need for more knowledge about an institution that occupies a more and more important place in the political process in West Africa. Based on documentary research and detailed interviews in each country, the study provides a comparative analysis which highlights the similarities and differences in the structure and operations of each body, and attempts to establish the reasons for their comparative successes and failures.

One world, many knowledges: Regional experiences and cross-regional links in higher education

Various forms of academic co-operation criss-cross the modern university system in a bewildering number of ways, from the open exchange of ideas and knowledge, to the sharing of research results, and frank discussions about research challenges. Embedded in these scholarly networks is the question of whether a ‘global template’ for the management of both higher education and national research organisations is necessary, and if so, must institutions slavishly follow the high-flown language of the global ‘knowledge society’ or risk falling behind in the ubiquitous university ranking system?Or are there alternatives that can achieve a better, ‘more ethically inclined, world’?

Basing their observations on their own experiences, an interesting mix of seasoned scholars and new voices from southern Africa and the Nordic region offer critical perspectives on issues of inter- and cross-regional academic co-operation. Several of the chapters also touch on the evolution of the higher education sector in the two regions.

An absorbing and intelligent study, this book will be invaluable for anyone interested in the strategies scholars are using to adapt to the interconnectedness of the modern world. It offers fresh insights into how academics are attempting to protect the spaces in which they can freely and openly debate the challenges they face, while aiming to transform higher education, and foster scholarly collaboration.

Moçambique como lugar de interrogação a modernidade em Elísio Macamo e Severino Ngoenha

Moçambique como lugar de interrogação: a modernidade em Elísio Macamo e Severino Ngoenha é uma tentativa de procurar respostas para algumas questões que se apresentam quando pensamos dentro do escopo da ciência moderna a partir das periferias globais. Como fazer ciência sociais ignorando a historicidade destas disciplinas e os sentidos que incorporaram desde o seu surgimento e ao longo do processo de exploração colonial? O livro não pretende negar a possibilidade de desenvolvermos ciência de forma crítica a partir dos nossos lugares de fala ou tampouco negar a importância desta produção em nossos contextos. Pelo contrário, nos desafia a refletir sobre caminhos para esse pensar crítico e assume que do nosso lugar de fala, é fulcral que comecemos por interrogar alguns pressuspostos. Por isso, o nosso lugar é um excelente lugar para levantar velhos e novos questionamentos. O conceito de modernidade é exemplar para o tensionamento destas questões, porque traz à tona a dicotomia que historicamente separou colonizadores e colonizados, que é a dicotomia civilizado-selvagem, moderno-tradicional. Por detrás dele está a negociação da nossa igualdade. Refletí-lo, por isso, é uma forma de desconstruir roupagens que nunca nos couberam. O passeio através das obras de Elísio Macamo e Severino Ngoenha, autores de grande importância no pensamento social moçambicano, é uma forma de buscar algumas respostas para estas questões.

A perspicácia e fecundidade com as quais os autores se debruçam sobre a complexa relação que o continente africano estabelece com a modernidade é uma bela porta de entrada para refletirmos sobre o nosso lugar numa rede mais ampla de produção de conhecimento. Moçambique como lugar de interrogação: a modernidade em Elísio Macamo e Severino Ngoenha não é de forma alguma conclusivo, é uma busca. Mergulhar no pensamento destes autores é um convite para pensarmos nossos horizontes.

Reflections of South African University Leaders: 1981 to 2014

The inspiration for this collection arose in late 2013 in the Council on Higher Education’s (CHE) Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, the directorate responsible for conducting research on the higher education landscape and monitoring the state of the sector over time. They noted that conditions besetting universities had grown increasingly complex, both globally but more especially locally, and the question arose – how had this altered the challenges to university leadership over the period, say, between the new political dispensation ushered in in 1994 and the second decade of the new millennium? More particularly, how had leaders with a proven track record of visionary and strong leadership during this period faced these challenges? How did they see the main changes that needed dealing with? What challenges did these changes pose and how were they successfully overcome? What did they think, looking back, were the main constituents of successful leadership and management? What wisdom could be distilled for posterity? The Directorate decided to invite a range of vice-chancellors and senior academic leaders who had completed their terms of office to contribute to a project that set out to gather such reflections and compile them into a publication.

Much has been written about the ever-growing demands on university leadership worldwide in the face of increasingly complex changes and challenges from within the academy and beyond. However, as we are reminded by Johan Muller in the Introduction to this book, “there are particular features of time and place that also throw up unique problems”. It is precisely ‘time and place’ that make this set of reflections by university leaders quite remarkable and distinguishes it from the many biographies to be found in the literature on higher education leadership. … In the main, this collection spans two decades, the 1990s and 2000s, of unprecedented levels of change in South African higher education. Leaders in universities, as well as those responsible for higher education policy in the government and associated statutory bodies, had no neat script to work off, nor ‘manuals’ or prescripts of ‘good’ leadership or practice. Instead, there was palpable excitement about collectively imagining and nurturing a new post-apartheid higher education system, which would contribute to the social and economic development needs of the country, the deepening of democracy and which would also be globally relevant.

Most reflections touch on the coalface of leadership, which is the face-to-face interactional dimension, dealing with staff, with students, with council chairs. What comes through clearly, is the importance of what are sometimes called ‘people skills’. In these accounts this is not simply presented as a human relations aptitude, for a number of reasons, first of which is the special nature of universities and their occupants. More than one points out the special challenge of managing the talented people that are academics, and their inbuilt distaste for bureaucracy, their reluctance to be managed or told what to do. The message here is consistently one of needing to be completely open with academics, the importance of maintaining the distinction between ‘collegial’ and ‘executive’ management (avoiding ‘managerialism’), and the critical importance of winning and holding their trust.

Student Politics in Africa: Representation and Activism

The second volume of the African Higher Education Dynamics Series brings together the research of an international network of higher education scholars with interest in higher education and student politics in Africa. Most authors are early career academics who teach and conduct research in universities across the continent and came together for a research project, and related workshops and a symposium on student representation in African higher education governance.

The book includes theoretical chapters on student organising, student activism and representation; chapters on historical and current developments in student politics in Anglophone and Francophone Africa, and in-depth case studies on student representation and activism in a cross-section of universities and countries.

The book provides a unique resource for academics, university leaders and student affairs professionals as well as student leaders and policy-makers in Africa and elsewhere.