Return on Education Investments

Most PhD graduates in Cameroon are unemployed, yet the demand for a PhD continuously increases. Given that education is a powerful instrument for the economic development of every country, there is a need to consider education as an instrument of economic policy to ensure that resources devoted to education yield expected returns. Applying financial concepts in education enables policymakers to be well informed on the investment made in education and the returns on the investment.

FAR-LeaF fellow Dr Sophie Etomes’ research focuses on leadership and economics of education – particularly on how resources invested in education can be productive to the individual, the government and the society. Dr Etomes is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Buea, Cameroon.

She has observed that the productivity of leaders is one of the significant factors affecting organisational productivity. “It is worth noting that leaders are not formally trained within higher education institutions in Cameroon but are expected to lead. They are appointed based on political recognition or experience as teachers in higher education.”

Dr Etomes is researching ways to revise leadership programmes and create new lines of inquiry and research streams in leadership: A need for leaders training for sustainable higher education productivity in Cameroon.

Most innovations and changes in society are done through higher education since it is the major supplier of the quality and quantity of human capital needed in societies. This justifies government and households’ expenditure on education, especially at the tertiary level.

The fact that Cameroon is experiencing a high level of unemployed graduates with higher education certification threatens their development agenda to become an emerging nation by 2035. All public universities in Cameroon are highly subsidised to increase access. Therefore, the unemployment of graduates is a huge loss. Effective leadership is required to implement the change process for optimal and sustainable productivity.

Dr Etomes’ research investigates how transformational leaders can effectively manage change for sustainable higher education productivity in Cameroon, considering the four major components of transformational leadership: idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualised attention.

Leaders must understand that their relationship with all stakeholders can make or mar organisational productivity. They need maximum collaboration with followers and provide what it takes for followers to do what is expected of them.


The study provides an overview of how higher education productivity can be measured. Results on the various forms of handling change will be relevant to school leaders and higher education administrators. They will bring out the relationship between transformational leadership and the sustainable productivity of higher education and the need to train leaders for sustainable productivity.

“Most often in organisational management, the lower and middle-level managers are blamed for low productivity or failure. Leaders must understand that their relationship with all stakeholders can make or mar organisational productivity. They need maximum collaboration with followers and provide what it takes for followers to do what is expected of them. Appointment of leaders to higher positions comes with greater responsibilities which requires training for optimal productivity in any establishment, and evaluation of the output is of prime importance for its growth and sustainability.”

The study involves applying economic concepts to education to evaluate policy development, implementation, and outcome. Policymakers in education must be well informed on investments made in education and the returns on the investment. Given that education is a powerful instrument for the economic development of every country, there is a need to consider education as an instrument of economic policy. Leadership is regarded as a significant factor of productivity in education, with spillovers to the individual and society.

Heidi Sonnekus | FAR-LeaF Program

 

The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.