The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) has donated 21,771 books to seven African institutions of higher education and research and five public universities on the continent. In donating the books, valued at over 100 million CFA, the aim of CODESRIA is to strengthen teaching, research and human capital development in Africa. The ceremony for the book donation was held in CODESRIA’s premises in Dakar, Senegal, on Thursday, 6 October 2016.
The beneficiary institutions in Senegal were the Center for Studies of Information Sciences and Techniques (CESTI), the Higher Institute of Information Sciences and Communication (ISSIC), the universities of Hampaté Amadou Ba, Bambey and Ziguinchor and the Ministry of Higher Education (Minensup). Five public universities in other parts of Africa including Rwanda, Chad, Gambia, Cape Verde and Niger will also benefit from this effort by CODESRIA to support libraries in African universities. .
The Executive Secretary of CODESRIA, Mr. Ebrima Sall, while speaking at the occasion recalled that the publications are mainly outputs from African intellectuals, and on the basis of very serious research in Africa. He added that CODESRIA publishes at least forty books each year, and dozens of working papers and reports. Added to this are fifteen (15) periodicals and twelve (12) peer-reviewed journals.
Through this donation, he noted, CODESRIA is sending a strong message to African governments and the private sector by raising their awareness about the vital need for massive support for universities and researchers on the continent in general.
He added: "If we want our universities to be centres of excellence that will train competent leaders who can contribute to the development of our societies, we must provide them with top-level research publications which are excellent and can adequately inform decision makers on a range of issues. They must be given the means, and among these means are well-equipped libraries and laboratories with resources."
That assumption was endorsed by the Director General of Centre Africain d’Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG), Mr. Boubacar Baïdari. Speaking on behalf of the recipients of the donation, the Associate professor in Management Sciences pointed out that all African universities have essentially two problems: senior teachers and top-level researchers as well as access to teaching materials, especially relevant textbooks.
Taking the example of the school he manages which has students from 22 different nationalities, Mr. Baïdari laments the fact that CESAG has a large library complex but has only books produced in the Western world and particularly in France.
He said the donation by CODESRIA will facilitate a purely African production and produced by Africans. "This will further enrich the courses with knowledge about the competence of African researchers."
The Director General of ISSIC, Abdoulaye Ndiaga Sylla, on his part, said the works are important to a school like the one he is heading. "We offer training in journalism and communication. Besides those related to reporting and others, there is the aspect of investigation which is very important. These books will enable journalism students to better conduct research and investigation." he said, adding "we appreciate the gesture of CODESRIA and we believe that such activities will be sustained to allow us to train and better equip students who come to pursue training in the various fields of communication and journalism."
Also, in his remarks, the Director General of Higher Education and Research, Mamadou Sangharé, praised the privileged partnership between CODESRIA and the African States, noting that it is a partnership that is crucial in the context of university reform on the continent. He reiterated the need to review and redefine the mission of African universities in relation to the needs of countries and organisations and hence the usefulness of CODESRIA’s books for African universities.
The ambassador of Cape Verde, Cesar Augusto Monteiro, who chaired the meeting, expressed the importance his country attaches to education and research in building a society that is both modern and developed especially in an increasingly globalised world.
Mr. Monteiro seized the opportunity to mention the two memoranda of understanding signed between the Embassy he heads and CODESRIA on March 20, 2015, stating that the agreements emphasize research especially in the field of migration and cultural and the exchange of information and publications, training and facilitating communication with public and private universities.
In his closing remarks, the Executive Secretary of CODESRIA, Mr Ebrima Sall, said that CODESRIA intends to make the book donation exercise an annual activity, adding that the Council will identify African institutions each year to donate its publications to.
According to him, if CODESRIA is to realise its mission to promote African scholarship through research, training, publishing and distribution, support for universities and research centres has to be seen as a priority.