The following post was written by Travis Blakely. It originally appeared on “Your Black World” under the title “An African Woman Founded the World’s Oldest university.”

By: Travis Blakely

When most people talk about historical universities that still exist to this day, normally we think of the much talked about University of Oxford or Cambridge University; both world class institutions of the highest order that have tremendous history. These institutions of higher learning located in the United Kingdom have had an incredible influence in the world of education. In fact, Europe ushered in a plethora of world class universities that became the model of educational centers worldwide. But relatively unknown in Western society is the fact that the oldest universities in the world are not in Europe. The oldest university in the world as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records and UNESCO, is the University of Al-Karaouine of Morocco (Medina of Fez), discovered in 859A.D. by Fatima al-Fihri, a woman.

Now I don’t want to confuse anyone, this institution is not the first institution of higher learning or the first university. Ancient higher learning institutions like Edubba (house of wisdom) of Sumeria can be traced back to 3500B.C., and Shangyang (higher school) of ancient China back to 2200B.C.. In fact, Nalanda University of India, which dates back to the 5th century, is currently being resurrected after being destroyed in 1193A.D.But the University of Karaouine is the oldest existing and continually operating degree granting institution in the world. And the second oldest university, located in Egypt, is Al-Azhar University which was founded in 970A.D.

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