Universities: Ivory Towers in Africa

Students in flowing black gowns about the shaded courtyards. White-thatched dons suck on their briars tutorials on Greek philosophy. Oxford or Cambridge? In fact, the scene is black Africa, where not far from the manicured quadrangles natives still live in baked mud huts. Relics from the years of empire, Africa's 26 colonial-rooted universities (total enrollment: 45,000) have survived independence unprepared and incapable of dealing with the problems of the continent, where the illiteracy rate is 70% and still rising.

Cricket and Rugby. Europeans founded black African colleges on the premise that...