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New Challenges for Quality Assurance -African Situation and the Current African Union Harmonization Initiative Olusola Oyewole Association of African Universities, Accra, Ghana
The Past of Quality Assurance in Africa. 1 In the pre-independence era , responsibilities for QA on : l Colonial parent universities l Professional Associations l National academic Bodies
The Past of Quality Assurance in Africa. 2 Then: Some African institutions ranked among the best until the deterioration of the 80 s and the 90 s
Today’s Pictures l l Massification Inadequate and deteriorated facilities and infrastructures Poor funding Poor staffing – Brain drain
The Need for Quality Assurance in Africa 1. Demand for Efficiency and Competitiveness; 2. Increased Mobility, Globalization and Cross-Border Recognition of Qualifications; 3. Involvement of Private Interests in Higher Education
The Need for Quality Assurance in Africa 4. The Challenge of the new modes of Delivery; 5. Expansion in enrolment; 6. Market Demand for Quality and Relevance of Education; 7. The Challenge of Brain-drain
Current Situation n Absence of QA mechanisms in many countries. Only 17 countries have existing national structures for QA In some countries, Public HEIs assessing quality of private institutions without having their own QA mechanisms in place.
Related Issues / Observations Within Africa, there are many different systems of education which are based on different national or colonial and other legacies across Africa – Problem of trusts exists. 2. In Africa, there is the lack of recognition of certificates, diplomas, etc across regions, and this limits African integration and the mobility of students, and labour across Africa. 1.
Related Issues / Observations 3. 4. Low quality of HE has implications for African and national economy, global competitiveness and promotes brain-drain There are many fragmented initiatives to promote quality of HE in Africa – Impact appears low
The Current Challenges for QA in Africa CAPACITY BUILDING QUALITY ASSURANCE IN AFRICA COMMITMENT AND POLITICAL WILL COLLABORATION n A ca fri ion Un
Quality Management The Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union has adopted the following areas of focus for the Second Decade of Education: 1. Gender and culture 2. Education management information systems 3. Teacher development, education and training 4. Tertiary education 5. Technical and vocational education and training 6. Curriculum, and teaching and learning materials 7. Quality management
Quality of Education – Priorities and Visions • Development of a model of standards and norms for quality management in Africa • Capacity building for education quality management • Monitoring and measuring learner achievement and the quality of Teaching/Learning
Initial Strategies for attaining the Visions Harmonization of Higher Education Programmes in Africa Developing an African Higher Education Quality Rating System
Purpose of the AU HE Harmonization Strategy To establish harmonized higher education systems across Africa, while strengthening the capacity of higher education institutions through: • innovative forms of collaboration, and • ensuring that the quality of higher education is systematically improved, and • facilitates mobility of graduates and academics across the continent.
Broad Developmental Objective To develop quality higher education that produces graduates with the competencies required to drive Africa’s economic and social development, and that increasingly enable the continent to rely on its own, substantial human resources, Øcombined with systems that facilitate economic integration, cultural relevance, and Ømobility of the growing pool of talents across various regions of Africa
Goals of the Strategy 1. Advocate and raise awareness of the potential and value of harmonization of higher education programmes 2. Bridge the gap between disparate educational systems that exist as a result of colonial legacies by coordinating efforts of national accreditation bodies, and regional bodies 3. Provide an integrating platform for dialogue and action to develop strong regional harmonization initiatives that cohere into a continental process of harmonization
Goals of the Strategy 4. Facilitate and promote mobility of African students, graduates, and academic staff across the continent 5. Facilitate the development of effective quality assurance mechanisms 6. Ensure that African higher education institutions become an increasingly dynamic force in the international higher education arena
Proposed Result Areas l l l Establishment and maintenance of continental political commitment to the process of harmonization Cooperation in information exchange Development and maintenance of a continental framework for higher education qualifications Creation of minimum standards in targeted qualifications Establishment of joint curriculum development and student mobility schemes
Core Initial Focus l l National Capacity-Building Regional Integration (with Continental Alignment/Coordination) Creation of Transparent Mechanisms for Sharing Information Focus on Dialogue About Quality and Quality Improvement
Coordination of Harmonization Efforts ¡ Modalities set in place to coordinate harmonization efforts on a continental level to eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts and conflicts while enabling existing initiatives to fulfil their true potential ¡ Strong links being created between existing continental and regional organizations so that they work together. ¡ A strong, achievable vision being established that will create buy-in from all RECs, IGOs, countries, and higher education institutions
Harmonization Discussion Opened Some people were sceptical – ¡ Wrong understanding of the vision ¡ Wrong understanding of what harmonization is. ¡ Other personal reasons One Comment:
What Harmonization in HE is not: Harmonisation is not synonymous with: • creating uniformity; • Homogenization • condensation • achieving identical higher education systems. The focus is to develop quality and facilitate processes that lead higher education systems to be able to inter-operate more effectively to the benefit of development on the continent. ”
Harmonization – from two views • Harmonization is a process of mutual recognition of the contents and quality of educational programs, degrees and certificates … with appreciation of their equivalencies and comparabilities • Harmonisation refers to the agreement, synchronization and coordination of higher education provision in Africa.
Views Expressed by Discussion Participants 1. Experience from other parts of the world confirms that the processes of harmonisation are complex, require significant time, adequate resources strong political will and academic cooperation and perseverance to work successfully.
Views Expressed by Discussion Participants n n There is a need to take cognisance of the existing harmonisation processes and other parties interested in harmonisation ( Arusha Convention, CAMES prog. ), Given that the efforts in Africa are fragmented, the need to organise in a coordinated fashion was emphasised. 2. The starting point to bring all these key players together to reach agreement on how to streamline the existing processes.
Views Expressed by Discussion Participants n n 3. There is a need to consider how qualifications are structured and ‘packaged’ in different countries. This involves examining the frameworks that are used to develop and describe qualifications (levels/credit), equivalence between them, and establishing agreed definitions of terms. It was also pointed out that quality assurance should not be confused with developing a credit system.
Views Expressed by Discussion Participants n n 4. The focus should be on servicing the needs of Africa, and the priorities should be dictated by the needs of the continent. There is no reason to create a ‘typical African university’ but rather focus on developing Africa’s resources and potential to tackle Africa’s needs
Views Expressed by Discussion Participants n n Africa can learn from the initiatives /developments in other parts of the world, such as the Bologna process and initiatives in Latin America. 5. However, whilst the experiences from Bologna and Latin America can be adapted to the African context, it is important to recognise the different histories, contexts, and level of development.
Views Expressed by Discussion Participants n n 6. The regional and continental processes will serve to provide support and guidelines to help countries begin and sustain their processes, as well as helping to build capacity within countries. The importance of countries buying in to the process in order for it to be successful in the long term was highlighted.
Views Expressed by Discussion Participants n n 7. For this strategy to succeed, the students, the academics, the employers of labour need to be part of the process The importance of considering students and academics in the HE discussion is very important.
Let me end with an African saying: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. • This effort is just the beginning. • (I acknowledge the high contributions of Neil Butcher, who is the Consultant to the African Union). • Thank you