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Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA)—Higher Education Cluster

Coordinator:  International Network for Higher Education in Africa

University of Kwazulu-Natal

SOUTH AFRICA

 
Introduction
CESA HE: Sub-clusters
Rationale
Themes: Kick off
Leadership
Funding
 

Introduction

The African Union, in partnership with the Member States and key stakeholders, developed and adopted the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016-25) to respond to the multiple continental crises by transforming Africa’s education system. The strategy is in line with the African Union 2063 Agenda and the Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The twelve strategic objectives of CESA articulate high-level results that aim to reorient and provide qualitative and quantitative improvements to African education and training systems and provide the continent with requisite human resources for achievement of the African Union’s Vision and Agenda 2063.

Under each strategic objective, a set of intermediate-level goals, called action areas are provided to specify the critical elements and results the CESA 16-25 must accomplish before achieving the strategic objectives. These action areas are the basis on which operational plans for implementing the CESA 16-25 are developed.

CESA also serves as a platform for bringing together all education actors across the continent behind a transformative Pan African agenda for education. It is in this regard that the thematic cluster approach was adopted to bring together various stakeholders in specific fields of education to contribute to meeting the CESA strategic objectives. To date, twelve CESA thematic clusters have been launched.

Implementation of the Continental Strategy will require concerted, harmonious and systematic efforts to deploy all key stakeholders towards realizing the common vision. It is therefore necessary to mobilise all key stakeholders around a shared understanding and anticipated undertaking of the major priorities for education development in Africa.

CESA capitalizes on numerous, and active, players ready to mobilize financial, human and technical resources within national, regional and continental coalitions for education, science and technology. Thus, the Strategy seeks to provide each education stakeholder the opportunity to make its best contribution to education and training in Africa.

The concept behind CESA as a ‘Strategy’ and not a definitive “Action Plan” provides a robust opportunity for a variety of players to participate, on their own and/or in coalition, in the implementation of the continental framework. Every participating agency contributes with its particular strength towards the achievement of the overall vision and mission of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa, within identified action areas.

A partnership-based approach is adopted for achieving the objectives of the strategy and overall implementation through effective coordination, facilitation and follow up. The implementation platform therefore consists of thematic clusters which brings together actors working on similar and related themes to achieve the strategy’s expected results.

Clustering under thematic areas has been identified as an effective tool for enhancing coordination and strengthening partnerships around common themes. This is anticipated to enhance alignment and harmony among stakeholders as well as facilitate the identification and deployment of synergies for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and its negative impact on Africa’s education systems is calling on all education stakeholders at the regional and continental levels to come together to act with speed and scale to implement innovative initiatives that improve the resilience of Africa’s education system and ensures continuous learning. The African Union’s DOTSS approach provides the framework for action and point of confluence for the work for clusters.

The African Higher Education Series is intended to reinvigorate the CESA Higher Education Cluster through research, policy analysis, and publishing evidence-based studies and analytical pieces.

 

CESA HE: Sub-clusters

Agenda 2063 of the African Union affirms that “Africa’s human capital will be fully developed as its most precious resource, through sustained investments in higher education, science, technology, research and innovation. Access to post-graduate education will be expanded and strengthened to ensure world-class infrastructure for learning and research and support scientific reforms that underpin the transformation of the continent.”

African higher education has recorded massive growth in the last two decades. An estimated 15-20 million students are enrolled in the sector currently with Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria and Ethiopia leading the list. Yet, still the enrollment rate in the continent remains low in an elite category, according to Trow’s classification. The implications of this massive—and sharp—growth which has typically taken place in many countries abound. The CESA HE cluster is intended to contribute to advancing the sector through multiple interventions.

CESA HE cluster is organized under a dozen clusters headed by a coordinator/s. One of these clusters, jointly coordinated by the International Network for Higher Education in Africa and the Association of African Universities, is the Higher Education Cluster. This cluster has the following 13 sub-clusters headed by respective coordinator/s.

  1. Harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation
  2. Leadership and management
  3. Research and graduate studies
  4. Publishing and knowledge dissemination
  5. Private higher education
  6. Internationalization and diaspora mobilization
  7. Gender inclusivity, equity and diversity
  8. Student affairs
  9. The professionalization of the Academia
  10. ICT, library and university networking
  11. Curriculum, teaching and learning
  12. Distance and online education
  13. Innovation and entrepreneurship

The sub-clusters are responsive to the significance and implications of COVID-19 on higher education in the continent within the framework of DOTTS as conceived by the African Union Commission. The cluster will be keenly responsive to the key issues of quality, relevance, equity and employability—issues which continue to beset the higher education sector in Africa.

 

Rationale

The CESA Higher Education Series is conceived as a strategic intervention in the advancement of higher education in Africa in the framework of the Higher Education Cluster of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa. The Series is intended to systematically produce evidence-based knowledge through a rigorous process of collective, academic and professional engagement with direct implications on informing policy, discourse and actions from continental perspectives guided by the African Union’s blue print compass, Agenda 2063. This initiative is also intended to systematically building the next generation of academics, researchers and policy makers in higher education.

 

The Themes: Kick off

The CESA African Higher Education Series will publish thematic issues, in a series, along the identified sub-cluster themes noted above. The following themes are identified to kick off the Series:

  1. Harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation
  2. Research and graduate education
  3. Private higher education
  4. Publishing and knowledge dissemination
  5. Curriculum, teaching and learning

 

Leadership

The respective themes of the African Higher Education Series are coordinated by lead editor/s and include:

  1. Prof. Juma Shabani: Harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation
  2. Prof. Olusola Oyewole: Research and graduate education
  3. Asso. Prof. Wondwosen Tamrat: Private higher education
  4. Prof. Thierry Luescher: Publishing and knowledge dissemination
  5. Dr. Charmaine Villet: Curriculum, teaching and learning

In addition to the production of knowledge which will contribute towards shaping the African higher education discourse, the editors and the respective contributors are expected to contribute to policy pieces in prominent regional and global media such as the University World News and the International Higher Education.

The Series is headed by Prof. Damtew Teferra, as its General Editor. Teferra, who is the Founding director of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa, is the co-coordinator of the Higher Education Cluster along with the Association of African Universities. INHEA is the coordinator of the African Higher Education Series.

The African Union Commission, through the Department of Human Resources and Science and Technology, HRST, is the patron of the Series.

 

Funding

The African Higher Education Series is supported through the funding mechanisms of the Commissions of the European and African Union to support the Harmonisation of African Higher Education, Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA-2) project coordinated by OBREAL GLOBAL.