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IAU Durban Conference, August 20-25, 2000
                                   11th General Conference: Universities as Gateway to the Future
                                                                                 Plenary Panel I



Lidia Brito
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Mozambique

Introduction
I would like to start by thanking the IAU, for inviting me to be part of this Panel. It is not normal that
academics are ready to bring government people inside the discussions. So, I thank you for giving me
this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts and principally to learn quite a lot by being
here and learning in such a matter that I think that I can really change a lot of my positions after being
here and listening to you. Of course, such invitations always come with something behind it. The fact
is I have a very hard job to respond to yesterday's speeches. It is hard because after listening to the
keynote speakers and participating in one of the group discussions, I passionately agree with most of
what was said yesterday. Maybe less passionately, I have my doubts, about a few remarks that were
also made yesterday.
And, because I am from the Government now, though I used six months ago to be considered an
academic, I guess my role is to play the part of a government official o n this Panel. You do not want
me to be a true academic, so I will try to respond from the point of view of a government body which
in my country is very recent. Six months ago, we did not have an Higher Education Ministry in
Mozambique, so it is still a very new body in the Government.
Ethical Pillars and Foundations
Let me start by taking two sentences that were given by two speakers. One was the Rector of Bologna.
The other one was the honourable Minister of Education, Dr Asmal. These two sentences focus on the
same area, and on the same concept. But, they are very different. Rector Roversi Monaco said that the
universities should consult the past, refer to the present and prepare for the future. The honourable
Minister phrased it differently. He said that universities have to know their past, interrogate the present
and imagine the future. By taking these two sentences, I would say that the second for me reflects
really what universities are all about. By saying it this way, we are addressing the university's mission.
What Professor Elmandjra called yesterday, 'passion', and referred to it as an important value, which,
for most of the time, is missing from our values in the universities. It also brings into the equation
another value to which Professor Elmandjra also referred yesterday. That is ethics. When I look to the
universities, these two values have really served as important pillars for the other values, such as
Academy Freedom and Autonomy. It is difficult to have authentic Academic Freedom, to achieve it as
an individual, as a professor, as a student, if you do not feel passionate about it. Because, it is very
hard. Freedom, you fight for it all the time. You cannot take freedom for granted, much less Academic
Freedom. If you do not have ethics, there is no freedom at all, because you are probably stepping on
someone else's toes. So these two values were not mentioned together before, and they are values that
for me are very important.
Teaching, Learning and the University
Let me latch on to another statement the Rector of Bologna University mentioned yesterday. He
strongly stated that universities cannot be replaced. In this, I have to agree with him 100%.
Universities cannot be replaced. The day that universities are replaced by the multinational teaching
institutions, that are being put together, then I think we lost a great deal of the richness and capacity to
change and to create change. Why can one not really replace universities?. Or, why ought universities
not to be replaceable. That is the better way to rephrase the question. Maybe universities will be
replaced if things do not change. Why should we not replace the universities by other types of teaching
institutions? Universities are not solely teaching institutions. They are learning institutions. In
universities, you learn, you do not teach. Professors learn. Students learn. The staff learns. Anybody
that comes to a university should learn. When the universities become teaching institutions, then they
are no longer universities.
And, you know, that is when Academic Freedom really begins to count. To have a genuine learning
environment that can develop the learning experiences which can build up inside the people - old and
young -who come to the universities, this need to constantly learn, demands Academic Freedom. But
Academic Freedom is an individual value. It is not an institutional value. Universities do not have
Academic Freedom. What or who is Academic Freedom? The professors, the students, they are the
ones who have Academic Freedom. Autonomy counts too so the institutions can protect the Academic
Freedom of these individuals who together build the institution. So this is, I think, a very important
question? What is happening most of the time, is that people or inside institutions, request Academic
Freedom from government, from civil society, from the donors, from whatever. But, do you really
practice Academic Freedom? When you have your lectures and say you are spending too much time in
administration, why don't you take a little bit of that administration money to research, how you really
react? How democratic are you really inside your own institution. If you cannot use and make these
values live inside your own institution, there is no way that you can request it from outside. If in your
institution, professors and students have to follow the priorities that the administration decided to be
the research priorities, how can you ask governments not to set up a priority for your agendas.
Social Responsibility and the Pursuit of Truth
I can even give another example. I am come from Mozambique. I would not like to generalize since I
do not know most of your institutions. So, maybe to you it's a theoretical question more than anything
else. Mozambique has a big problem with Aids. And, the population group most affected by Aids, in
terms of infection, is precisely the age-group in universities. Its all the students. If you go around and
see how many of our institutions have really implemented a strong program in Aids awareness, you
probably find no one. Maybe just a beginning, but nothing big. Maybe one of them will ask the
Government to support Aids research. But, if they do the research, why cannot the results be used in
their own institutions? When you do research, the first to benefit from the results is your own
institution, is your own self. It raises questions about social responsibilities. And they start inside the
institution. If you are in a learning institution, you have to learn all the time. You only can do that if
you use your own research, your own pursuit for truth to find the truth in yourself. Only then do you
have a very strong case to request those on the outside to support Academic Freedom and Autonomy.
Moral Questions and Questions of Institutional Morality
The point I wanted to make, and which you made, is that we have to preserve Academic Freedom and
Autonomy. I don't think we can delude ourselves if we don't also use these values inside our own
institutions. If we don't lead our lives based on these same values, then they are dead values. They are
preserved values or conserved values. They don't add anything. They don't add anything which
enables you to really question what you are doing and what you need to be doing if you are to
envisage a better future for everybody. This vision brings us face to face with the issue of
internationalization which was touched upon by one of the discussion groups. Someone pointed out
that although we are trying to be equals, we are not really equals. But, once again as solidarity, passion
and ethics come together, how can you request solidarity and support from your governments or
funders, when you show little solidarity with your colleagues from other universities? How can you
request to be treated, protecting your own freedom, if you are not freeing the other person also to
pursue his or her own values?
The Shaking of Comfort Zones
To end, if you allow me, I would like to congratulate someone who is at this table and is of exemplary
courage - Professor Elmandjra. You are a person that cannot confine himself to a zone of comfort
which all of us build around ourselves, even the universities, principally in the universities. We build
this comfort zone where we know our rights. But we forgot our duties and there we stay. Then
someone very courageous comes along and starts shaking these comfort zone, making us to realize
that, although we feel our borders are well defined and well protected, they are not so defined and
protected for one single reason. We have forgotten we have the capacity to extend those borders
extend and have more people learning together. I must really congratulate you for having shaken this
comfort zone. At least, you did shake mine yesterday and thank you very much for that.

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Durban p1 lidia brito

  • 1. IAU Durban Conference, August 20-25, 2000 11th General Conference: Universities as Gateway to the Future Plenary Panel I Lidia Brito Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Mozambique Introduction I would like to start by thanking the IAU, for inviting me to be part of this Panel. It is not normal that academics are ready to bring government people inside the discussions. So, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts and principally to learn quite a lot by being here and learning in such a matter that I think that I can really change a lot of my positions after being here and listening to you. Of course, such invitations always come with something behind it. The fact is I have a very hard job to respond to yesterday's speeches. It is hard because after listening to the keynote speakers and participating in one of the group discussions, I passionately agree with most of what was said yesterday. Maybe less passionately, I have my doubts, about a few remarks that were also made yesterday. And, because I am from the Government now, though I used six months ago to be considered an academic, I guess my role is to play the part of a government official o n this Panel. You do not want me to be a true academic, so I will try to respond from the point of view of a government body which in my country is very recent. Six months ago, we did not have an Higher Education Ministry in Mozambique, so it is still a very new body in the Government. Ethical Pillars and Foundations Let me start by taking two sentences that were given by two speakers. One was the Rector of Bologna. The other one was the honourable Minister of Education, Dr Asmal. These two sentences focus on the same area, and on the same concept. But, they are very different. Rector Roversi Monaco said that the universities should consult the past, refer to the present and prepare for the future. The honourable Minister phrased it differently. He said that universities have to know their past, interrogate the present and imagine the future. By taking these two sentences, I would say that the second for me reflects really what universities are all about. By saying it this way, we are addressing the university's mission. What Professor Elmandjra called yesterday, 'passion', and referred to it as an important value, which, for most of the time, is missing from our values in the universities. It also brings into the equation another value to which Professor Elmandjra also referred yesterday. That is ethics. When I look to the universities, these two values have really served as important pillars for the other values, such as Academy Freedom and Autonomy. It is difficult to have authentic Academic Freedom, to achieve it as an individual, as a professor, as a student, if you do not feel passionate about it. Because, it is very hard. Freedom, you fight for it all the time. You cannot take freedom for granted, much less Academic Freedom. If you do not have ethics, there is no freedom at all, because you are probably stepping on someone else's toes. So these two values were not mentioned together before, and they are values that for me are very important. Teaching, Learning and the University Let me latch on to another statement the Rector of Bologna University mentioned yesterday. He strongly stated that universities cannot be replaced. In this, I have to agree with him 100%. Universities cannot be replaced. The day that universities are replaced by the multinational teaching institutions, that are being put together, then I think we lost a great deal of the richness and capacity to change and to create change. Why can one not really replace universities?. Or, why ought universities not to be replaceable. That is the better way to rephrase the question. Maybe universities will be replaced if things do not change. Why should we not replace the universities by other types of teaching institutions? Universities are not solely teaching institutions. They are learning institutions. In universities, you learn, you do not teach. Professors learn. Students learn. The staff learns. Anybody that comes to a university should learn. When the universities become teaching institutions, then they are no longer universities.
  • 2. And, you know, that is when Academic Freedom really begins to count. To have a genuine learning environment that can develop the learning experiences which can build up inside the people - old and young -who come to the universities, this need to constantly learn, demands Academic Freedom. But Academic Freedom is an individual value. It is not an institutional value. Universities do not have Academic Freedom. What or who is Academic Freedom? The professors, the students, they are the ones who have Academic Freedom. Autonomy counts too so the institutions can protect the Academic Freedom of these individuals who together build the institution. So this is, I think, a very important question? What is happening most of the time, is that people or inside institutions, request Academic Freedom from government, from civil society, from the donors, from whatever. But, do you really practice Academic Freedom? When you have your lectures and say you are spending too much time in administration, why don't you take a little bit of that administration money to research, how you really react? How democratic are you really inside your own institution. If you cannot use and make these values live inside your own institution, there is no way that you can request it from outside. If in your institution, professors and students have to follow the priorities that the administration decided to be the research priorities, how can you ask governments not to set up a priority for your agendas. Social Responsibility and the Pursuit of Truth I can even give another example. I am come from Mozambique. I would not like to generalize since I do not know most of your institutions. So, maybe to you it's a theoretical question more than anything else. Mozambique has a big problem with Aids. And, the population group most affected by Aids, in terms of infection, is precisely the age-group in universities. Its all the students. If you go around and see how many of our institutions have really implemented a strong program in Aids awareness, you probably find no one. Maybe just a beginning, but nothing big. Maybe one of them will ask the Government to support Aids research. But, if they do the research, why cannot the results be used in their own institutions? When you do research, the first to benefit from the results is your own institution, is your own self. It raises questions about social responsibilities. And they start inside the institution. If you are in a learning institution, you have to learn all the time. You only can do that if you use your own research, your own pursuit for truth to find the truth in yourself. Only then do you have a very strong case to request those on the outside to support Academic Freedom and Autonomy. Moral Questions and Questions of Institutional Morality The point I wanted to make, and which you made, is that we have to preserve Academic Freedom and Autonomy. I don't think we can delude ourselves if we don't also use these values inside our own institutions. If we don't lead our lives based on these same values, then they are dead values. They are preserved values or conserved values. They don't add anything. They don't add anything which enables you to really question what you are doing and what you need to be doing if you are to envisage a better future for everybody. This vision brings us face to face with the issue of internationalization which was touched upon by one of the discussion groups. Someone pointed out that although we are trying to be equals, we are not really equals. But, once again as solidarity, passion and ethics come together, how can you request solidarity and support from your governments or funders, when you show little solidarity with your colleagues from other universities? How can you request to be treated, protecting your own freedom, if you are not freeing the other person also to pursue his or her own values? The Shaking of Comfort Zones To end, if you allow me, I would like to congratulate someone who is at this table and is of exemplary courage - Professor Elmandjra. You are a person that cannot confine himself to a zone of comfort which all of us build around ourselves, even the universities, principally in the universities. We build this comfort zone where we know our rights. But we forgot our duties and there we stay. Then someone very courageous comes along and starts shaking these comfort zone, making us to realize that, although we feel our borders are well defined and well protected, they are not so defined and protected for one single reason. We have forgotten we have the capacity to extend those borders extend and have more people learning together. I must really congratulate you for having shaken this comfort zone. At least, you did shake mine yesterday and thank you very much for that.