“Recognition of Academic Credentials: challenges and solutions” East African Community (EAC) experienceBy: Dr. Benedict Mtasiwa, Programmes and Projects Officer, Inter‐University Council for East Africa (IUCEA)
This presentation will mainly make reference to the area of jurisdiction of IUCEA (EAC) and partly aspects of global nature.The regional University education cooperation in the Eastern African region can be traced back to the 1960s when the countries under the British colonial rule - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda had an access to university level education through the Makerere College, affiliated to the University of London. Following the political independence of Tanganyika in 1961, Uganda in 1962 and Kenya in 1963, the University of East Africa was established, comprising one constituent colleges in each country – Makerere college for Uganda, Nairobi University college for Kenya and Dar es Salaam University college for Tanzania. In 1970, the colleges in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam became autonomous, forming the University of Nairobi and University of Dar es Salaam. This led to the Inter-university committee(IUC) in order to maintain the cross-border interaction among scholars, existent under the University of East African arrangement.
The IUC functioned very well with the political backing of thefirst East African Community(EAC) which was an inter-governmental community geared to effective exploitation ofresources for development through joint facilities ininfrastructure, social, trade et.c, until 1977 when the firstEAC collapsed.In 1980, a memorandum of understanding was signedbetween Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to form the IUCEA,based on appreciation of the value of cross-border inter-university collaboration. The MOU was honored until therevived EAC in 1999, and its(IUCEA) revitalization in 2000.The IUCEA is considered to be one of surviving institutionsof the EAC.
Historic Background cont’dAdministration of regional Quality Systems -Admission• At all phases of the cooperation of the 3 countries in university education, the candidates were sourced from a similar pre- university educational background comprised of Ordinary Cambridge School Certificate, followed by Cambridge Advanced School Certificate• Earlier in the 1970s, the East African Examination Council was established under the E.A. common services for coordination and administration of the Cambridge Examinations• The signing of an MOU in 1980 leading to the formation of the IUCEA with the mandate of coordination of academic programs in universities in the region, facilitated the potential for mechanism for comparable and therefore, recognition of academic credentials at all stages of academic processes in the EAC
Revitalization The IUCEA was revitalized in the 2000, following the signing of the protocol of the EAC in 1999. The revitalization involved development of the perspective plan and a strategic plan 2006/2011. The IUCEA mission so developed, defined the IUCEA as a regional inter- governmental organization mandated to facilitating contacts between East African universities for their development, and development of the Higher Education sector as well as the socio economy of the EAC The IUCEA membership comprises EAC partner states of Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda with Burundi and Rwanda constituting the newest members of the community. IUCEA Members are drawn from universities both public and private, Higher Education regulatory agencies, commissions for research, science and technology as well as from the private sector and development partners.
The IUCEA membership in the EAC stands at 80 universities. The EAC population is about 150 million people The cross-border recognition of qualifications features very prominently in the current strategic plan in terms of the sequence of deliverables in the IUCEA Key Results Areas related to Quality Assurance (QA) issues. They are, harmonization of QA system, Benchmarking, Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (CATS) and recognition of Higher Education awards.The IUCEA has in a participatory manner, developed a QA manual and is in final stages of piloting of teaching programmes.However, the following are challenges.
Admission Increased demand for access to higher education with unclear comparability of admission qualifications agreeable with bridging programmes or other academic support systems for international students offered by universities. This challenge is more pronounced now with new EAC members and when students from outside the EAC are involvedCharacteristics/Quality of the curricula Slow pace of EAC socio-economic integration, hindering effective development of regionally responsive curricula, besides the observed poor linkage between the socio- economy and academics within most of the EAC partner states Lack of Harmonized Credit Accumulation and Transfer System between HEIs in the country and the region leading to limited mobility of studentsCharacteristics/Quality of graduates Ineffective mechanisms for recognition and comparability of academic awards as a result of the above factors
Challenges Cont’dEAC has Partner States whose medium of trainingis French, thus Besides the common differences incurricullum, there is an additional challenge inlanguage for either parties, on assessingqualifications and curriculaWith regard to international acceptability, as an EACregion, the regional arrangement is still in initialstages, although institutional and country bilateralengagements exist
Solutions on recognition of qualification General conceptual approaches Prioritisation of regional harmonization process at university level rather than at lower levels. Where there are gaps, effective university entrance bridging programmes need to be developed and institutionally and regionally harmonized Effective implementation of the EAC common Market Protocol to benefit its customization in Higher Education sector IUCEA to lead the process in regional Quality Assurance systems ready for development of subsequent QA programmes such as credit accumulation and transfer system CATS and Qualification frameworks IUCEA to play an important role in the dialogue between the academic community and professional bodies, industry and community for relevance and acceptability of graduates Exploit multi-lingual characteristic of IUCEA membership for HE internationalization goals
Solutions Cont’d Initiatives of the East African Community and the IUCEAThe EAC Treaty Article 5 and 102The treaty inter alia states that the partner states agree to undertake concerted measures to foster cooperation in education and training within the community to; Harmonize curricula, examination, certification and accreditation of education and training institutions in the Partner States through the joint action of the relevant national bodies charged with the preparation of such curricula; encourage and support the mobility of students and teachers within the community; exchange information and experience on issues common to the education systems in Partner States; and Collaborate in putting in place education and training programs for people with special needs and other disadvantaged group.
Solutions Cont’dEAC and IUCEA initiativesThere is good political will as observed in the EAC Common Market Protocol signed in 2009, with Mutual Recognition of Academic and Professional Qualifications for the purpose of free movement of labour in the region as one of targets The IUCEA will therefore ensure effective operationalization of this article, through programmes such as the on going EAC Partner states/ IUCEA development of an East African Qualifications Framework (EAQF) for general education and technical and vocational education training ( TVET)
Solutions cont’dEAC and IUCEA initiatives The EAQF is meant for recognition of academic qualifications attained within the region’s HEIs, to ensure effective recognition of foreign qualifications by the NRAs under agreed benchmarks. For professional entities, the IUCEA is closely following on Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) being developed and concluded in different professional set-ups
Solutions cont’dIUCEA StrategyAmong the Key Results Areas of the IUCEA Strategic Plan, 3 of them have a bearing in the challenges and opportunities in recognition of academic credentials. Inter-university cooperation Support Teaching and research in universities QA in teaching and research Internationalization of Higher Education through international staff and student exchange programmes as well as participation in international research activities, is a KRA which depend on succesfull QA programme as elaborated belowThe Quality Assurance Unit in the IUCEA secretariat – more details
Solutions cont‘d...Progress on IUCEA Quality Assurance InitiativesOverall Objectiveto develop a harmonized quality assurance system for higher education in East AfricaSpecific ObjectivesDevelop a regional quality assessment tool for use by universities in East Africa through institutionalization of internal quality assurance mechanisms for universities
IUCEA Quality Assurance Initiative, cont...Specific Objectives Pilot the assessment tool in selected university programmes. Develop regional benchmarks for specific programmes. Build capacity in Quality Assurance at institutional, national and regional level. Mainstream the application of QA tool in all institutional programmes, and Mainstream the lessons learnt in the use of the regional QA tool into the national accreditation and quality assurance processes
Solutions cont...Development of Specific Programme/Subject Benchmarks Based on the QA manual, the IUCEA is aiming at developing benchmarks that will facilitate harmonization of university teaching programmes in the region. The pilot programmes included:• Business Studies• Agriculture• Human Medicine
Solutions cont...Development of Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (CATS)IUCEA in collaboration with the National Higher Education Regulatory Bodies of the EAC Partner States have developed CATS framework for the following subjects that are being piloted by selected member universities:• Human Medicine,• Engineering,• Agriculture, and• Basic Sciences
Solutions to the East African Higher Education, cont...Development of a Regional Qualification FrameworkIUCEA is in the process of developing a Regional Framework that will borrow and harmonize the existing National Qualification Frameworks of EAC Partners States that will facilitate: articulation of harmonization of education, training systems, and qualifications for Partner StatesThis is expected to facilitate mutual recognition of qualifications across the region.
CONCLUSIONThe on-going regional initiatives that are spearheaded by IUCEA will facilitate development of an East African Higher Education Area that will be defined by the following indicators: Transferability of Credits across the region Mobility of students and staff across the region Mutual Recognition of academic QualificationIn this year the Strategic Plan ( 2006/11) will be reviewed and new phase plans will be developed. A road map with even more vigorous plan have been developed for better regional and international goals.
I wish to invite you for exchange of experiences and joint development of programmes and projects with our region for development of the higher education and the future of our scholars and societies THANK YOU YOUR ATTENTION