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Heads of African universities discuss harmonisation of higher education

BY: Salomey Appiah
 Mr William Hanna (right), Head of European Union Delegation in Accra, interacting with Ms Beatrice Njenga (2nd right), Head of the Education Division of the African Union, at a meeting in Accra. Those in the picture include Professor Mohammed Salifu(2nd left), Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education and other officials. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Mr William Hanna (right), Head of European Union Delegation in Accra, interacting with Ms Beatrice Njenga (2nd right), Head of the Education Division of the African Union, at a meeting in Accra. Those in the picture include Professor Mohammed Salifu(2nd left), Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education and other officials. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

Heads of universities in Africa are meeting in Accra to discuss the harmonisation of higher education to promote academics on the continent.

The three-day symposium, with the objective of developing harmonised accreditation, credit systems and quality assurance mechanisms, is aimed at enhancing students’ mobility and global competitiveness.

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The symposium forms part of the second phase of the African higher education harmonisation and tuning initiative which seeks to improve teaching and learning to enhance skills and competences, as well as develop a common academic system in Africa.

Organised by the African Union (AU) Commission, the Association of African Universities and the University of Ghana, the symposium is funded by the European Commission through the Joint Africa-Europe Strategy on Harmonisation of Higher Education.

Need for capital devt

Speaking at the ceremony to open the symposium in Accra yesterday, the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education, Prof. Mohammed Salifu, said although higher education had seen massive expansion over the years, more needed to be done.

In the last 40 years, he said, student enrolment in Africa’s higher education had grown from about 200,000 to about 10 million today.

For instance, in Ghana today, he said, there were about 300,000 students at the higher educational level, with more than 10,000 being international students.

Prof. Salifu observed that a strong focus on human capital development had become necessary to support the socio-economic transformation needed on the continent.

“Africa needs to produce champions who will promote better governance and management in all sectors and facilitate innovative solutions to society’s problems and the universities are the best placed to provide the trained labour force needed as the driver for knowledge-based economies,” he stated.

He said the harmonisation of the academic system was meant to provide for global benchmarking competitiveness.

EU support

The Pro-Vice Chancellor of Academic and Students Affairs at the University of Ghana, Prof. Samuel Kwame Offei, said the second phase of the initiative was expected to develop a common understanding on accreditation, credit system and quality assurance in Africa.

He said the overall objective of the initiative was to create a revitalised, distinctive, attractive and globally competitive African higher educational space through intra-African collaboration.

“The initiative is aimed at, among others, ensuring consensus of academics across borders in curriculum development, educational standards and quality assurance, consistency of systems, as well as recognition and transferability of degrees to facilitate mobility,” he added.

The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Ghana, Mr William Hanna, said both the EU and the AU had mutual interest to ensure that education, fundamental values and active citizenship were enhanced though international collaboration and mobility. 

He said the EU was supporting the initiative with other programmes which sought to provide funding to build the capacities of universities and grant scholarship to students to pursue master’s degree programmes.