From left to right, Standing: Zakari Lire (CAMES), Brehima Toukara (UEMOA), and Pascal Hoba (AAU). Sitting: Michaela Martin (IIEP), Stefan Bienefeld (DAAD), and Hassana Alidou (UNESCO/Abuja)

Quality assurance and accreditation in higher education

IIEP supports growing initiatives in West African countries

In recent decades, higher education systems in the West African region have rapidly expanded. In a context of public financial constraints, many countries have facilitated the establishment of private higher education institutions to meet the increased demand. But this expansion was also accompanied by an increasing number of public higher education institutions, many of which still need to be strengthened.

Moreover, despite the implementation of the LMD (License -Master- Doctorate) reform in the region, the quality of educational provision remains in question. The development of quality assurance and accreditation systems is seen as a possible solution to sustainably improve the quality of higher education, and to facilitate both the recognition of qualifications and the student mobility within the region. Countries are beginning to take steps in this direction, and Senegal is the first country in the region to create a quality assurance agency. Others plan to do so.

It is in this context that IIEP, the UNESCO Office in Dakar, the UNESCO Office in Abuja, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) – with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development  (BMZ) – implement a programme entitled "Enhancement of West African Quality Assurance Structures" (EWAQAS). This initiative provides a series of training activities in both internal and external quality assurance. The Association of African Universities (AAU), the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (CAMES), and the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) are partners in the initiative.

Seminar in Dakar, Senegal

As a first activity of the EWAQAS project, IIEP, with the support of DAAD and the UNESCO Office in Dakar, organized a blended course on external quality assurance. This training project included a first phase at a distance (from 9 September to 15 November 2013) followed by a face to face session (3 to 5 December 2013 in Dakar). It was addressed to decision-makers at both the national and the institutional level from Burkina Faso, the Republic of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Senegal. The African Association of Universities, the CAMES, and the UEMOA have also participated in the training courses. The seminar enabled participants to discuss the work of the distance phase and consider follow-up actions.

Following the meeting, partners of the EWAQAS initiative had the opportunity to meet to sign the Roadmap which draws the activity framework of the initiative.