USIU-Africa was represented by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza and Associate Dean Dr. Amos Njuguna at the 2017 State of Education in Africa (SOE) Conference held at the Crown Plaza Nairobi, from 3-4 May 2017. The event which was organized by The Africa-America Institute (AAI), focused on exploring innovations, exposing challenges and; expressing the necessary practices and intended approaches to address the needs of the future of education in Africa. 

Prof. Zeleza was part of the panel that discussed “The Role of Curriculum in Changing the Narrative on Africa” and moderated by His Excellency Carlos dos Santos, Ambassador of Mozambique to the United States, where he elaborated on how narrative images of Africa have not changed in the last 500 years. He lamented how the African story has been sensationalized, such that what happens in one part of the continent happens all over Africa. As an example, he described how terminologies used to describe conflict in Africa such as “tribal”, created negative portrayals of the continent as “backward” and “less than Europe.”

After taking his audience through the traditions, periods, and schools of thought of African history, Prof. Zeleza challenged them to ensure that history is made central to African higher education, urging them to engage in its production.

Chandaria School of Business Associate Dean Dr. Amos Njuguna was a member of the panel on “Transforming Higher Education for the Workforce of the Future.” Where he discussed USIU-Africa’s unique approaches to preparing students who are ready for the modern workplace. He described how our faculty are deemphasizing examinations by utilizing multiple approaches to assessment, and using structural incentives to create opportunities to make a difference. “The goal,” he said, “is to ensure a well-rounded student who can present unique solutions to the challenges faced by the modern workforce”.

Undergraduate majors Mr. Stephen Ndege, Ms. Ruth Nyakerario, Mr. Yaros Ongocho and Ms. Tracy Wafula were student discussants – presenting the student perspective on the various panels. International Relations Senior and AAI Future Legacy Fund Scholar Ms. Nyakerario’s heartfelt narration of the difference her education at USIU-Africa has made to her life, struck a poignant cord with the assembled delegates. “I became smart when I went to USIU-Africa…I have done something in a different way.” She also described the culture of excellence she found at USIU-Africa where she was urged to, “...demand the best from our university”

Information Systems and Technology Class of 2010 alumna Ms. Ivy Wainaina was also invited to the panel discussing“African Entrepreneurs Disrupting Education” in a dual role as a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon University Africa, based in Kigali, Rwanda.

The conference also featured a keynote address by Dr. Phillip Clay, former Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who described Africa’s huge agricultural potential as its greatest resource, He urged universities to specialize in researching modern global technologies and utilizing unused potential, which would then help the continent leapfrog developed nations and become the food basket of the world.