Two new initiatives to promote quality assurance in higher education in Africa

21 November 2012
The Conference on promoting regional cooperation in quality assurance among higher education institutions in West and Central Africa led to two major recommendations.


Two new initiatives to promote quality assurance in higher education in Africa
© UNESCO/Tine Ismaël
Discussions during the Higher Education Conference © UNESCO/Tine Ismaël
The conference took place in Dakar (Senegal) from 14-17 and gathered a total of 110 participants from 27 African countries, 6 European countries and the United States of America.
The recommendations are: 
The creation of a regional coordination mechanism for Quality Assurance in higher education in Africa. It is facilitated by UNESCO in close collaboration with all stakeholders such as the African Union, African Development Bank, UEMOA, regional economic communities, CAMES, AAU, ADEA, AFRIQAN and African universities. It will primarily work hand in hand with countries to formulate long-term sustainable strategies for quality higher education and provide platforms for dialogue and sharing of experiences and information on quality assurance. DAAD will provide its technical support.
A new integrated partnership framework for capacity building on governance and quality assurance in higher education in Africa supported technically and financially by African Union, UNESCO, DAAD and other partners such as African Development Bank, UEMOA and the Regional Economic Communities. The implementation of the capacity building will start in 2013
UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar, DAAD (he German Academic Exchange Service) and the International Institute for Educational Planning jointly organized the conference.

New dynamics

New dynamics are transforming the landscape of higher education, which call for partnerships and concerted action at national, regional and international levels to assure the quality and sustainability of higher education systems.
“We are delighted about these initiatives,” says Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of UNESCO Dakar. “Such joint efforts will promote in-depth reforms of the Higher Education Sector so as to improve its quality and its competitiveness.” she adds.
The Minister of Higher Education of Senegal, Mary Tew Niane highlighted in his keynote speech the importance of assuring quality in African higher education institutions and fostering cooperation among quality assurance stakeholders.
“The Ministry is striving to making quality assurance a reality in our higher education institutions,” he said in his opening remarks.

Coherent systems of accreditation

The quality of higher education is at the heart of the development of an African higher education area, which promotes African integration through the harmonization of qualifications and mobility of students and academics.
“To achieve this goal, it is crucial that African countries and universities work to improve the quality of their educational programmes and to establish coherent systems of equivalence and accreditation,” says Ndong-Jatta.
The DAAD is involved in a similar initiative in Eastern Africa, through the Dialogue on Innovative Higher Education Strategies (DIES) programme. The participants to the meeting called for the replication of this programme in Western and Central Africa through exchange of experience and good case practices.
“Participants not only ensure an academic exchange within West and Central Africa and along the lines of north-south, but also between east and west of the continent,” said Mr Christian Clages, Ambassador of Germany to Senegal.