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Black African Educational Needs and the Soviet Response

by Harold D. Weaver, Jr. - 1970

Crucial questions in any objective analysis of educational relations between Africa and the Soviet Union would be as follows: 1) What are some of the pressing African educational needs? 2) Has the Soviet Union been involved—both inside and outside the U.S.S.R.—in helping to alleviate these needs? If so, in what ways? This paper attempts to respond to those two basic questions, with data collected up through 1964.

The involvement of the Soviet Union in educational assistance programs to Africa has been widely and sensationally covered in the United States mass media, especially in times of conflict between Africans and Soviet citizens.1 Crucial questions in any objective analysis of educational relations between Africa and the Soviet Union would be as follows: 1) What are some of the pressing African educational needs? 2) Has the Soviet Union been involved—both inside and outside the U.S.S.R.—in helping to alleviate these needs? If so, in what ways? This paper attempts to respond to those two basic questions, with data collected up through 1964.

African Educational Needs Several reasons explain the need for Africans to study overseas and thus rely heavily on educational systems and training programs of countries outside of Africa. One is a shortage of high-level manpower.2 Defining the high-level manpower as "strategic human capital,"3 two serious observers of the African scene agree that most African countries lack the reserve pile of leadership for political, economic, and social activities.4 In fact, Harbison and Myers' study show very clearly the abominable high-level manpower vacuum existing in Black Africa. Of the fifteen Middle African countries surveyed, only one, the Republic of Ghana, escaped the lowest of the four levels assigned to countries throughout the world. There is no reason to doubt that these fourteen countries—Niger, Ethiopia, Nyasaland, Somalia, Tanganyika, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Congo, Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Sudan—are unrepresentative of the whole of Middle Africa.

The authors generalize (1) that education and government employ a minimum of one-third of the high-level manpower; (2) that over half of the personnel filling high-level positions are non-Africans; and 3) that expatriates from Western Europe hold most key posts in the public services, in education, and in commerce and industry. With foreigners not necessarily sympathetic to national objectives holding key positions in hospitals, universities, and secondary and primary schools, banks, factories, plantations, mines, oil refineries, and giant commercial establishments, it is clear that "Africanization" is merely an objective and not an implemented reality. According to three major Africanists—two political scientists and one educationalist—manpower shortages in Africa can be noted in the following specific areas:

  1. Highly educated professional personnel, such as doctors, engineers, and agronomists;
  2. Technicians, nurses, and other trained individuals who serve as assistants to the professional personnel;
  3. Managers and administrators who can assume responsibility for high-level positions;
  4. Teachers, particularly at the secondary level; and
  5. Craftsmen, entrepreneurs, bookkeepers, and secretaries.5

A second important reason for Africans' studying overseas in large numbers is directly related to Africa's inherited educational systems, often merely carbon copies of their European ex-rulers. The curricula do not meet the needs of a developing society: the emphasis is on humanism, rather than on science and technology.8 Certain generalizations can be made about education during the colonial era which tended to be present at the time of independence. First, there was a tradition of humanistic studies, and hence, education provided little or no work incentive for the needs of those indigenous to economically underdeveloped Africa.7 Second, it appears that the creation of moral defeatism among the people was one of the purposes of colonial education. As Kwame Nkrumah spoke to the world-wide gathering of Africans meeting in Ghana in 1962:

This [colonial] system of education prepared us for a subservient role to Europe and things European. It was directed at estranging us from our own cultures in order to more effectively serve a new and alien interest.8

The textbooks used in the schools, including those run by missionaries, tended to belittle the indigenous cultures and to build up the virtues of foreign rule, as well as praise the benefits of Western and European culture.9 Third, classes under the colonial administration were conducted in the European tongues— whether it be English in Ghana and Nigeria, or French in Guinea and Upper Volta—immediately closing the door to that overwhelming majority of Africans who spoke no European tongues. Fourth, an excessively high rate of illiteracy existed. And fifth, there were few university graduates to man administrative posts.

A well-known British critic of African education said the following about West African education and its relevance to the African self-image which could apply to all of Africa:

An African can graduate with a B.A. knowing practically nothing about the intricate political and social structure of his own race—the fascinating and complex network of organization among the Kede tribe along the Niger, which includes even a sliding-scale income tax figured according to the number of canoes a man owns; the reverence for the earth among the Tallensi and the ingenious checks and balances which protect them from autocracy and which contribute to good government; the economics of Yoruba trading; the laws of ownership and inheritance of land among the Ibo; the dignified and sophisticated pattern of judicial procedure among the Bemba; the elaborate and subtle system of education among the Mende. And this is not just interesting antiquarian knowledge; it is essential knowledge for the African intellectual who will become a civil servant or a teacher and who has the challenging responsibility of leading the common people from the old Africa to the new.10

The well-known political sociologist Edward Shils pin-points the blame as being within the secondary school system:

The secondary school system of Black African countries cannot produce enough students with qualifications that enable them to gain admission [to universities].11

Another prominent student of the subject, Frank Bowles, would not limit it merely to inadequate secondary educational facilities:

Considering the [African] region as a whole, the small primary and secondary school enrollments in these countries have produced few qualified applicants for higher education. In consequence, the established institutions have expanded slowly, and there has been no surplus of university candidates to supply students for either higher teacher-training or higher technical institutions.12

Major weaknesses of the higher education facilities inherited from the colonial powers tend to be related to the characteristics of African education generally. In the first place, there tends to be a liberal arts concentration.13 Africa's major manpower needs in the scientific and technical fields are being inversely matched by enrollment in the liberal arts. Students often tend to concentrate in the high prestige field of law, as well as the practically useless fields of political science or sociology.14 Second, education of women is given inadequate attention.18 Primary and secondary education throughout the continent, to say nothing of higher education, has been relatively inaccessible to females.16 The continent-wide percentage of secondary education enrollment is only 22% female; average at the primary level is 30%, with the figure dipping as low as 10% in some areas. Third, African studies are neglected. Studies about Africa, until the actual implementation of political independence, were sorely neglected.17 The curriculum was clearly oriented to the colonial ruler. In fact, it was not until after World War II that the University College of Ibadan and University College of Ghana, both significantly "attached" to London University, offered the first courses on African history to be given in Middle Africa.18 Only in the case of Nigeria did an African offer the course.19 This was a part of the post-war break-through in African studies, not only in Africa, but also in the U.S., the U.S.S.R. and Western Europe.

A third major reason why African students are abroad is that there is a shortage of higher educational facilities in Africa.20 African educational specialists, meeting at a UNESCO conference in Addis Ababa in 1961, pin-pointed the absence of an appropriate number of secondary schools, feeders for institutions of higher learning, as deserving high priority.21 Limited secondary education facilities have become a double-edged sword: limited outlet for primary school graduates, on the one hand, and limited producer for the under-enrolled colleges and universities, on the other hand.

Even with the shortage, there is an under-utilization of existing equipment and resources. African universities have been characterized by an absence of part-time students; universities have insisted on full-time residential students. Coupled with this is the failure of secondary schools to produce qualified candidates. In addition, there is an unusually low faculty-student ratio, 1/4 at both Ibadan University (Nigeria)22 and the University of Ghana,23 1/5 for the University of East Africa, and 1/3 for the University of Rhodesia and Nyasa-land.

Present is a vicious cycle, involving limited facilities, both secondary and primary, as well as a shortage of trained teachers at the pre-university level. Regarding teachers, Frank Bowles concluded the following:

The problems of teacher shortage are in a sense the key to the entire problem of educational development in [Middle] Africa, for, unless the primary schools function as effective educational instruments—certainly difficult when they must rely heavily upon under-prepared teachers and when they are unable to reach the goal of universal primary education—their expansion cannot support effective expansion of secondary and ultimately higher education. This may well mean, for the foreseeable future, a continuation of the present situation in which the supply of qualified candidates for admission to higher education can hardly be expanded rapidly enough to meet the manpower targets set up within the educational plans or even to take up all the places available within higher education. This is a problem which has been explicitly recognized in Ghana with a proposal for cutting two years from the required preparation for university admission.24

Soviet Educational Aid Soviet educational assistance to Africa takes many forms and has many geographic locations. Outside the U.S.S.R., scholarship pledges are made through the UN's Committees on Trust and Non-Self Governing Territories, as well as in the Trusteeship Council, Soviet scholars participate in UNESCO sponsored conferences and surveys. In Africa, the U.S.S.R. has been building and staffing institutes.25

In the Trusteeship Council the Soviet Union has played the role of agent provocateur toward the British, French, and Belgian administrators for their policies and practices in their respective territories: Tanganyika, British Togoland, British Cameroons, British Somaliland, French Togoland, French Cameroons; and Rwanda—Burundi. The European trustees came under Soviet criticism at all levels of education 1) for providing inadequate educational facilities and 2) for practicing racial discrimination against the Africans. In addition, in the absence of adequate higher education facilities, the European rulers were admonished by the Soviet delegate for their refusal to allow Africans to accept Soviet scholarships to study in Moscow:

Why cannot passports be provided to Africans from Tanganyika to study in Moscow? Why can an Englishman study in Moscow [referring to the British-Soviet student-exchange program] but an African in Tanganyika cannot?26

Regarding racial discrimination, the Soviets argued that by charging even minimal fees for primary and secondary education, the European ruler discriminates against the African. Because of the low wages received by the African involved in the money economy and because of the absence of money of Africans involved in the subsistence economy, few Africans can afford the luxury of even a primary education.27 Even those few parents who are able to pay find that facilities at schools provided for Africans are inferior to those schools in the same colonial territories for Europeans.28 Limited school facilities at all levels result in a negligible number of Africans attending any school whatsoever.29

Referring to the Cameroons, the Soviet representative on the Trusteeship Council, Mr. V. I. Oberemko, had this to say about forty years of British administration:

The result of this 'trusteeship' is that the territory has almost no industry, agriculture remains very backward, there are no railways, and the standards of education and the public health services are very low. In the Cameroons, there are only thirty doctors for a population of 774,000.30

The trustee authorities were accused of using this policy intentionally to impede the movement towards independence. The Soviets recommended a significant extension of facilities as a necessary precondition for the economic, social, and political advancement prerequisite to political independence.31 To remedy the situation, the Soviet delegates firmly and strongly recommended to the Trusteeship Council that it ask the authorities administering the territories to increase considerably their education budgets so that the schools—primary, secondary, and colleges—may be improved.32 The Soviet government considered this step necessary to increase the limited number of educational facilities and to lessen the blatant social discrimination against the Africans. Otherwise, the administering authorities would not be fulfilling the sacred trust given them by the United Nations Charter.33 Furthermore, a plea was made for allowing African students to take advantage of Soviet educational facilities, especially in higher education.34

The Soviet delegate could have easily pointed to the following:

When UNESCO launched its major campaign five years ago, it estimated that, in tropical Africa alone, about 17,000,000 children were without classroom space, and that, even so, fewer than 5% of the children who did attend primary school could go on to secondary school; while fewer than one per cent of all those attending school could enroll in vocational institutes. At the same time, between 80 and 85 per cent of the adult population was illiterate.35

Soviet assistance to Africa outside the U.S.S.R. also takes place within the framework of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). One such involvement was membership on the UNESCO Advisory Commission for the Establishment of the University of Lagos by Professor K. I. Lvanov, Pro-Rector of Moscow University. Basing its report on inadequacies noted in the Ashby Report,38 and a subsequent government White Paper, the Commission made key recommendations regarding admission policies, curriculum content, year-round and full-time utilization of facilities, pre-University testing and counseling, financial support based on need, and a pre-University curriculum (especially in the natural sciences).37 A key proposal included the provision for the appointment of a National Universities Commission to be responsible for the over-all coordination ... of higher education in the Federation.38

Another Soviet participant in an international study group on African education was Professor N. S. Torocheshnikov of the Moscow Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology, who participated in a study sponsored jointly by UNESCO and the International Association of Universities dealing with The International Study of University Admissions: Access to Higher Education. Professor Torocheshnikov, skeptical of the South African government's white-washing of the educational opportunities open to blacks, was the sole dissenter of the Commission's decision to publicize the report on the Republic of South Africa.89

Among the African countries benefiting from Soviet assistance in establishing technical institutes abroad are Guinea, Ghana, and Ethiopia.40 According to a Soviet-Guinean cultural agreement drawn up in the summer of 1959, the U.S.S.R. was to design and build a polytechnical institute for 2,500 students in Conakry.41 In the beginning, the entire staff was to be Soviet. Three of the four buildings planned contain laboratories. There is also a stadium, a library, and playing fields. Academically, there are four faculties: geology, agriculture, construction, and engineering. The result is that Guinea now has persons trained in subjects of which she had few or none until recently: industrial and civil engineering, machine building and metal-cutting, geology, water conservation, and agronomy. Likewise, in Ethiopia, just outside the town of Bahar Dar, the Soviet Union is to build a technical school for one thousand students. Technicians are being trained here for Ethiopia's woodworking, textile, and chemical industries, and for a mechanized farming.42 The Ethiopian institute was scheduled for a September 1, 1963 opening.43

Inside the US.S.R. African students in the U.S.S.R. may be put into three categories: 1) Students visiting for short periods as members of specifically invited youth delegations on tour; 2) Students in the U.S.S.R. for special events—forums, conferences, festivals (Examples of this are the various Soviet-supported youth festivals such as the one occurring in Moscow in 1957, in Vienna in 1959, and in Helsinki in 1962. Forums included the World Youth Forum in 1962. An African Students' Conference, bringing together Africans from throughout Europe, took place in Moscow in 1964); and 3) Students actually enrolled in academic and other institutions.

When traveling African youth delegations visit the U.S.S.R., they usually stay from ten days to one month. They are invited by their Soviet hosts for various reasons. One example will suffice. For the fourth anniversary of the Bandung Conference, students were brought to Moscow from Algeria, Iraq, Cameroons, Madagascar, and West Africa for one month in order to symbolize with the Soviet students "the international solidarity of youth against colonialism."44 The International Union of Students footed the entire bill.

One of the most dramatic special events sponsored by the U.S.S.R. has been the Youth Festival—the first six held in capitals of the Eastern European countries, the one in the summer of 1959 in Vienna, and a 1962 festival in Helsinki. Thousands of young people from all over the world, including Madagascar, Algeria, South Africa, Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, and the United Arab Republic came together, according to the Communist press, as a demonstration of the international desire for peace and friendship.45

In addition to attending seminars, the students were entertained by some of the leading musical ensembles of the U.S.S.R., China and other countries. They themselves performed dances and songs peculiar to their indigenous cultures, and participated in sports competition, regional meetings, and such events as "The Demonstration of Friendship and Solidarity with the Youth of Colonial and Newly Independent Countries."46

Of those interviewed, the non-Communists were unanimous that even though they knew the Festival to be Soviet-sponsored, they came primarily to have fun and to share informally their experiences with citizens of other parts of the world who had recently emerged from foreign domination, or were in the process of doing so.47

Communists shared this view and were also, for obvious reasons, politically motivated. Although deeply interested in each other's common problems, many non-Communists apparently stayed away from the organized seminars that were so obviously stacked against the West. At the same time, they were irritated by those American students (U.S. government supported, they said) who had gone for the purpose of disrupting the Festival.48

After the Festival, the participants were taken to individual Eastern European countries, including the U.S.S.R., or China, in totally subsidized trips. The tourist sights visited were much the same as those to which almost any tourist from any country would be taken. The heavy emphasis was on sights indicative of the economic and cultural advancement that had occurred under Communist Party rule.

The abridged statement of a Ghanaian, with his LL.B. (Honors) from London University, sums up the impressions of Africans and Asians with whom I spoke:

Our reception at the Vienna railway station was exceptionally warm. We were greeted with shouts of 'Peace and Friendship,' and we reciprocated by playing this greeting on talking drums. We enjoyed every moment of our stay in Vienna. What struck us most was that despite the fact that many of the participants had come from "color bar" countries, there was no sign whatsoever of racial discrimination. The black skin, which is looked upon in some countries with indignity, appeared to be most inviting at the Festival, for our delegation and those from other parts of Africa were overwhelmed with invitations from other delegations. The Russian gifts were scientific and political symbols—models of Sputnik and statues of their great men like Lenin and Stalin. Very few of us appeared to appreciate the statues as we associated them with Communist propaganda, and not well intentioned gifts.

In addition to inter-delegation meetings, our delegation took part in the cultural performances and rallies, and a few of us attended some of the seminars. I have no doubt that everyone left the Festival with an ardent desire to organize youth of Africa and to urge them to play their part in the social, economic, and political development of their continent.

There was one great impression which we might have left on the minds of our European and American friends, namely that the African wants to be a Socialist, not a Capitalist or Communist.

After the Festival, the Ghana delegation, and I understand other African delegations as well, had many invitations to visit Russia, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany... On their return, they spoke of great hospitality and were favorably impressed. Most members of our delegation had wished to visit China, but unfortunately, no invitations were extended to us.49

Turning next to African students actually undertaking a formal course of study in the U.S.S.R., there is the impression abroad that all African students in the U.S.S.R. are segregated in Moscow at Lumumba People's Friendship University. The facts are contrary to this impression. Of the approximately 3,000 Africans reported to have been in the Soviet Union during the 1963-64 academic year, only 572 were at Lumumba Friendship University.50 The overwhelming majority was scattered throughout several of the fifteen union republics from the Baltic to the Black Seas, and from Lvov, on the Polish border, to Tashkent, several thousand miles away in Central Asia's Uzbekistan.

Africans can undertake numerous kinds of training, from atomic energy to zoology, and from banking to youth leadership: on-the-job training in all aspects of industry, agriculture, and fishing; piloting, servicing, and navigating jet planes; military leadership; party and youth leadership. In higher education Africans were generally integrated into the regular structure: universities, technical institutes (both polytechnical and branch technical), and specialized institutes of law, physical culture, arts (including those specializing in music, cinematography, visual and plastic arts, drama), economics, pedagogy, medicine, and agriculture.51

The areas of education in which Africans were known to be involved in the Soviet Union between the 1956-1957 and 1963-1964 academic years are as follows:

  1. On-the-job training in industry
  2. Vocational agriculture for farms
  3. Programs in the mechanization of agriculture
  4. Aircraft training—piloting, navigating, servicing, of Illyshin-18 aircraft
  5. Fishing industry
  6. Military
  7. Higher education
  8. Teacher-training institutes
  9. Trade-Union institutes
  10. Party institutes (both Communist Party and Komsomol)62

Some indication of the diversity of higher educational institutions involved could be taken from a small sample of thirty-three African students involved in Kenneth L. Baer's study commissioned by the Intelligence and Research Division of the U.S. State Department. Seven countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Morocco, and Cameroons) were represented at institutions in Moscow: Patrice Lumumba Friendship University, Moscow Institute of Automotive and Road Construction, and Lomonosov State University; in Leningrad: Leningrad State University; in Kharkov: Kharkov University; in Kiev, Ukraine: Kiev University; and in Baku, Azerbaidzhan: Baku Chemical and Oil Institute.

Africans are able to take advantage of the fact that the applied sciences— especially agronomy, industrial chemistry, and engineering—receive much greater attention in the U.S.S.R. than in other countries, both industrial and non-industrial. In Africa, the American-trained Nigerian educator Dr. A. Babs Fafunwa estimated at the world-wide meeting of educators and scientists attending the UN sponsored Conference on the Application of Science and Technology for the Benefit of the Less Developed Areas (Geneva, Switzerland, February 4-20, 1963) that in 1959 his own Nigeria had only five of its more than 350 teacher-training colleges offering the proper facilities for teaching science or, for that matter, offering any science courses whatsoever.53 As Professor Nigel Grant of Scotland indicates:

In accordance both with the needs of the national economy and the importance laid by Marxism on the unity of theory and practice, the weight of numbers is strongly in favour of the practical and applied studies. Soviet sources 63 gave the proportion of students at technical colleges as 39.4% of the whole, while agricultural and medical colleges account for 10.8% and 8.5% respectively. The remaining 41.3% are classified under the 'humanities.' This is a little misleading, however, as this term is used to include all university students, science and arts alike, together with those in colleges of art, music, law, economics, and teacher-training institutes.54

The Soviets were late in starting higher educational exchange programs involving Africa, although a University of the Toiling Masses, with a political curriculum had been set up shortly after the 1917 Revolution. A yearly summary of African students studying in the U.S.S.R. would begin in 1956, when the 1956 edition of Study Abroad indicated that the Soviet Government, for the first time, was offering ten scholarships to students from non-self-governing and trust territories under General Assembly resolution 845 (IX). The International Union of Students, previously offering scholarships to Rumania, Poland, Hungary, and the German Democratic Republic, made an additional ten scholarships available to persons from colonial and other developing territories to study in the U.S.S.R.

The fields of study covering five-to-six years, plus a year for Russian language study, were to be medicine, agriculture, technical, and general University subjects. The Soviet government guaranteed round-trip transportation between the home country and the host country, plus travel to a rest home or sanatorium during holidays. Maintenance was to be a sum sufficient to cover the cost of board and material and cultural needs, with accommodations and free medical care. There was to be a lump sum for books, supplies and equipment.55 Advertisements in later years were to spell out more specifically the amounts.

The Permanent Mission of the U.S.S.R. informed the Secretary-General, in a note dated August 4, 1959,56 that the following African students had been awarded scholarships to study at Soviet institutions of higher learning for the 1958-59 academic year: Albert Bwalia Mambwe (Northern Rhodesia), Moscow Institute of Medicine; S. Omar Okullo (Uganda), Moscow Institute of Civil Engineering; and J. Theuri (Kenya), Moscow State University. Of the three, only one, Mr. Okullo,57 was actually in the U.S.S.R.; one of the others (Mr. Theuri) had been refused a visa by the British administration; the third (Mr. Mambwe) had accepted a scholarship to continue studying in India. The note indicated that all scholarships under Resolution 845 (IX) had been allocated.58

The number of Africans studying in the Soviet Union has grown by leaps and bounds since 1956. From the fourteen Africans in the U.S.S.R. during the 1956-57 academic year,59 none of whom were from sub-Sahara Africa, the number had increased to over three thousand from thirty-seven countries by the 1963-64 academic year.80 This coincides with the massive over-all increase in foreign students in the U.S.S.R. during that same period from 12,56561 to 23,000.62 Accurate statistics on Soviet training of foreign students are hard to come by, both in the U.S.S.R. and at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, where one would expect to find them. Approximate figures for the period under study are contained in the following chart.

In 1961, only two Middle African countries—Guinea and Sudan—were sending students to the U.S.S.R. under official inter-governmental scientific, technical, and cultural agreements. Students from both independent and dependent countries were being recruited through the five sponsors of Lumumba University for study at the University: The Soviet Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee, the Union of Soviet Societies of Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Ail-Union Central Committee of Trade Unions, the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education, and the Soviet Committee of Youth Organizations.63 In addition, those from trust and non-self governing territories were eligible under UN resolutions 557 (VI), 753 (VIII), and 845 IX). In all cases, students were asked to apply directly to the "Ministry of Education and Culture in [the] candidate's own country."

A special two-year post-graduate project involved Ghanians, two of whom had American undergraduate degrees in chemistry, and several of whom had advanced degrees in the sciences from the United Kingdom, in the field of nuclear physics to prepare for manning the atomic reactor of the Volta River Project. The participants were given lectures in English in Radio Chemistry and Physics for six months. Then, they began the practical work in their specialties for the next eighteen months. Courses in the Russian language, the history of the U.S.S.R. and the philosophical aspects of dialectical materialism were also part of their training.

In summary, Africans study abroad for the following reasons: (1) a middle-and high-level manpower shortage, (2) an inherited educational system [general and higher] not totally relevant and adequate to African needs, and (3) a shortage of higher educational facilities. Soviet educational assistance in helping solve these deficiencies takes place outside the U.S.S.R. through the United Nations and UNESCO, as well as in the building and staffing of institutes in Africa. In the U.S.S.R. itself, Africans are brought for various types of on-the-job, specialized, and higher educational training.

Estimated Enrollment of African Students in the Soviet Union, 1956-1964, by Selected Years.

Academic year

Sub-Saharan (No. of Africa countries)

North (No. of Africa countries)

African total



14 (1)

14 (1)


136 (10)

240 (5)

376 (15)














572 at Friendship



3000 (37)'



University alone





a) The futility of using specific statistics is shown by the differences, on the one hand, in the "Appendix—Free World Students in Communist Block Countries," Free World Students in the Soviet Bloc, SEATO document No. 1-451-U2), p. 11, as reported in Webbink, African Students, p. 5, and, on the other hand, in a U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research report, "The Current Status of Communist-Bloc-Free World Student Exchanges," Intelligence Report, No. 8182, December 21, 1959, p. 4. The most extreme contrast occurs when the former lists the number of Guinean students as "3," while the latter gives the number of 100.

b) Confidential State Department printed matter.

c) "Appendix—Free World Students," p. 11, as reported in Webbink, African Students, p. 5.

d) A USIA report included students from preparatory schools and universities, as well as those receiving on-the-job-vocational training, including banking in Kiev, mentioned the following figures: independent Ghana, 425; Guinea, 600; Somalia, 240; Nigeria, 250; Mali, 160; Congo (Kinshasa), Togo, and Sudan, 150 each; while colonial Algeria and Kenya had 225 and 150, respectively.

e) Letter from the Permanent Delegate of the U.S.S.R. to UNESCO, dated 24 September, 1963,- signed by A. Pavlov.

f) Tass, October 25,1963.


  1. Hundreds of articles read in the American, Western European, African, and West Indian periodicals between 1960 and 1964 have been almost unanimously critical and have often tended to distort in Cold War terms. Wishful thinking has been the rule, rather than the exception.
  2. Numerous African political figures have commented upon this problem. See Emperor Haile Selassie, "An Address by the Emperor of Ethiopia at the Inauguration of Haile Selassie I University, 1961"; President Julius Nyere, "An Address by the President of the Republic of Tanganyika at the Inauguration of the University of East Africa, 1964"; President Kwame Nkrumah, "The Role of a University, 1963"; President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, "Our Students Must Participate in the Development of Their Country, 1963"; L. Gray Cowan, James O'Connell, and David G. Scanlon, Eds. Education and Nation-Building in Africa. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965; President Kenneth Kaunda, "Installation Address by His Excellency the President K. D. Kaunda as Chancellor of the University of Zambia, 1966" at the University of Zambia.
  3. Frederick Harbison and Charles A. Myers. Education, Manpower, and Economic Growth. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1964.
  4. For a critique of Harbison and Myers, see E. R. Rado and A. R. Jolly, "The Demand for Manpower—An East African Case Study," Journal of Development Studies," April 1965, pp. 226-250.
  5. Cowan, O'Connell, and Scanlon, op. cit., p. 23.
  6. Interview with Philip H. Coombs, Director, Institute for Educational Planning. Paris, April 1964.
  7. Philip Foster. Education and Social Change in Ghana. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.
  8. Address of President Kwame Nkrumah to the First International Congress of Af-ricanists, University of Ghana, Legon, December 12, 1962, quoted in R. Emerson and M. Kilson, Eds. The Political Awakening of Africa. Englewood-Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1965.
  9. M. Panikkar. The Afro-Asian States and Their Problems. New York: John Day, 1959.
  10. Sir Eric Ashby, "Wind of Change in African Higher Education," Africa Report, Vol. 7, No. 3, March, 1962, p. 23.
  11. Edward Shils, "Modernization and Higher Education," in Myron Weiner, Ed. Modernization: The Dynamics of Growth. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1966.
  12. Frank Bowles. Access to Higher Education. Volume I. Paris: UNESCO, 1963.
  13. Martin L. Kilson, Jr., "Trends in Higher Education," Africa and the United States: Images and Realities, U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, Washington, 1961.
  14. A look at the statistics of East African students formerly in the U.S.S.R., and now in the U.S., indicates a heavy concentration in the social sciences and humanities. Is this due to low natural science aptitude or to inadequate secondary school preparation in the natural sciences?
  15. Kilson, op. cit., p. 70. Kilson, p. 71, indicates that of those studying at African universities, the following are the statistics regarding female percentages: U. of Sierra Leone -11%; U. of Ethiopia-8%; Univ. College of Ghana-6%; Ibadan-7%.
  16. One could partially explain this by the role of little girls in many traditional societies. To see what occurs when young people attempt to disregard the role and status that their parents and elders have ascribed to them, see Kenyan Ngugi, The River Between. London: Heineman, 1961.
  17. As Kwame Nkrumah said, "Seek ye first the political kingdom. . ." Political independence was a pre-requisite for any kind of significant change in social, educational, and economic matters.
  18. Philip Curtain. African History. Washington: American Historical Association, 1964.
  19. Professor O. Dike, prominent Nigerian historian, gave the course in Nigeria, whereas an Englishman, Professor John Page, offered the course in Ghana.
  20. Kilson, op. cit., The problem of staffing is admirably covered in A. M. Carr-Sanders, Staffing African Universities. London: The Overseas Development Institute, 1963.
  21. The Development of Higher Education in Africa. Report of the Conference on the Development of Higher Education in Africa, Tananarive, September 1962. The only Soviet educator presenting a paper at this conference was Professor A. F. Shebanov, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Law, Patrice Lumumba Friendship University, Moscow.
  22. The example of the dormitories at the University College of Ibadan clearly demonstrates the elite role intended for the university educated. All students had single rooms with terraces. A student revolt occurred over the introduction of self-service into the cafeteria, formerly serviced by waiters.
  23. Justification for one-third of total education budget for higher education in Ghana.
  24. Bowles, op. cit.
  25. Seymour Rosen, U.S. Office of Education, specialist on Soviet education, lists the following as the scope of Soviet programs in international education: 1) higher education, 2) industrial training, 3) exchanges with the United States, 4) international summer schools, 5) intourist programs, 6) book distribution abroad, 7) Soviet technicians abroad, 8) research on education abroad, and 9) establishing technical institutes abroad and training foreign nationals in Soviet technical institutes. Seymour M. Rosen. The People's Friendship University in the U.S.S.R. Washington: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1962.
  26. United Nations Document T/P V. 1100, June 3,1960.
  27. United Nations Document T/PV. 1109, June 10, 1960.
  28. United Nations Document T/PV. llOg, June 10,1960.
  29. Report of the Trusteeship Council, General Assembly Official Records: 13th Session, New York, 1956.
  30. Soviet News No. 4279, London, May 31,1960.
  31. Report of the Trusteeship Council, General Assembly Official Records: Ninth Session, New York, 1954,
  32. United Nations Document T/PV. 1109, June 10, 1960.
  33. Source in the United Nations Charter: Articles 75-91 cover the "International Trusteeship System" and "The Trusteeship Council."
  34. United Nations Document T/PV. 1100, June 3,1960.
  35. James Avery Joyce, "Priorities in African Education," Education in the Developing Nations, a reprint from Saturday Review, August 15, 1964, pp. not numbered.
  36. The Ashby Report refers to a thorough, international study by the Commission on Post-School Certificate and Higher Education, Investment in Education: Report. Lagos: Federal Ministry of Education, 1960. The study was commissioned by the Nigerian government. The results paved the way for an expansion from one university at the time of independence (October 1,1960) to five within five years.
  37. See Report of the UNESCO Advisory Commission for the Establishment of the University of Lagos, WS/0961.78.
  38. This Commission was headed by Akoi Aripo, until his appointment in 1967 as Commissioner of Foreign Affairs.
  39. Other members of the prominent Commission included the late Professor Gaston Berger, former Director of Higher Instruction in the Ministry of National Education of France; Dr. Juan Gomez Millas, Rector, Universidad of Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile; Dr. Joseph A. Oauwerys, Professor of Comparative Education, Institute of Education, University of London, London, England; Dr. Tasuto Morito, President, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima City, Japan; Dr. K. G. Saiyidain, Educational Advisor to Kashmir Government, Srinagar, Kashmir, India; Dr. Anisio S. Teixeira, Corn-panha Nacional de Aperfeicoamento de Passoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; M. Jean Thomas, Inspecteur General, Ministere de 1'Education Na-tionale, France (former assistant Director-General of UNESCO); Dr. Dael Wolfe, Executive Office, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C.; Dr. C. K. Zurayk (Chairman), Distinguished Professor of History, American University of Beirut, Lebanon. From Bowles, op. cit.
  40. Seymour Rosen, op. cit.
  41. Moscow News, February 20, 1960, and Soviet News, March 1,1960.
  42. Soviet Nevis, March 3, 1960.
  43. Interview with First Secretary, Ethiopian Embassy, Moscow, August 13,1963.
  44. Moscow Nevus, April 15, 1959.
  45. Moscow News, August 9,1962.
  46. Youth and Communism, II, No. 3, November, 1959.
  47. Interviews with members of various delegations to the Seventh World Festival of Youth and Students (Vienna), in Moscow, August, 1959.
  48. It later turned out in revelations by various sources, including Ramparts, that the Central Intelligence Agency, through various private foundations, including the Independent Research Service, had indeed financed disruptive elements at the festivals and forums. Ceylonese attending the 1961 World Youth Forum in Moscow revealed to me the Asian Foundation's willingness to subsidize them at the 1959 Vienna Youth Festival on the condition that they "walk out" and then condemn the Festival. But all of us agreed that the Vienna Youth Festival was far from a failure. The essence of such a meeting was to enable youth of all countries to meet together, with a view to establishing understanding among all nations.
  49. Isaac R. Aboagye, "No Regrets," Youth and Communism, II, No. 3, November, 1959, pp. 23-24.
  50. Professor S. V. Rumyantsev, Rector, Lumumba Friendship University, Press Conference of December 3, 1963, Moscow.
  51. An excellent brief paperback on Soviet education generally is Nigel Grant, Soviet Education. Baltimore: Penguin, 1964. An excellent detailed study is to be found in a Nicholas DeWitt, Education and Professional Employment in the USSR. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1961.
  52. Interviews with students studying in all these categories: Moscow, Leningrad, Tbilisi, U.S.S.R.; between 1959 and 1964.
  53. Science and Technology for Development Report, News Feature, Vol. IV, No. 3.
  54. Prokofiev, Chilikin, and Tulpanov, in Higher Education in the USSJi. Paris: UNESCO, 1961.
  55. General Assembly Document Al/4196, Sept. 8, 1959, p. 3. (Annex).
  56. General Assembly Document Al/4196, Nov. 3, 1959.
  57. Mr. Okullo later left the U.S.S.R. in a highly publicized manner covered by European and American publications, including S. Omar Okullo, "A Negro's Life in Russia-Beatings, Insults, Segregation," U.S. News and World Report, Vol. 49, August 1, 1960, pp. 59-60.
  58. General Assembly Document Al/4196, Nov. 3, 1959.
  59. Interview with Dr. Snyder, U.S. State Dept. official, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Washington, D.C., September, 1963.
  60. Tass, October 25, 1963.
  61. According to Webbink, African Students, p. 3, this compared to 40,666 foreign students in the United States.
  62. Kommunist Tadzhikistana, October 25, 1963, as reported in Mizan. Vol. 5, No. 11, December, 1963, p. 35.
  63. UNESCO, Fellowships for Africans. Paris: UNESCO, 1961, p. 33.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 71 Number 4, 1970, p. 613-628
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 1733, Date Accessed: 10/16/2021 8:47:01 AM

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About the Author
  • Harold Weaver, Jr.
    St. John's University
    Mr. Weaver is Adlai E. Stevenson Fellow, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and Assistant Professor of African and Afro-American Studies, Center for African Studies, St. John's. He wishes to express his gratitude to the Ford Foundations Foreign Area Fellowship Program for support during the course of his research on educational relations between Africa and the USSR. The views expressed in his paper, he writes, "are obviously personal and do not in any way reflect those of my present or past sponsor."
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