The Continental Education Strategy for Africa: Higher Education Series
Harmonization, Quality assurance and Accreditation of Higher Education in Africa
Professor Damtew Teferra
About the African Higher Education Series
The Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) 2016-25 Higher Education Series is conceived as a strategic intervention in the advancement of higher education in Africa in the framework of CESA’s Higher Education Cluster. The Series is intended to systematically produce evidence-based knowledge through a rigorous process of a collective academic and professional engagement with direct implications for policy, discourse and actions from continental perspectives guided by the African Union’s blue print compass, Agenda 2063. This initiative is further intended to systematically build the next generation of academics, researchers and policy makers in higher education.
The CESA Higher Education Series will publish thematic issues, in a series, along the established sub-cluster themes of the higher education cluster. Each theme will be assigned a lead editor who will work closely with the coordinator of the Series, who also serve as a joint editor.
The following five themes are identified to kick off the Series and include:
- Harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation
- Research and graduate education
- Private higher education
- Publishing and knowledge dissemination
- Curriculum, teaching and learning
Brief Overview of the Book
Quality of higher education plays a major role in the training of high-level human resources required to contribute to the implementation of national and regional development programmes. It is therefore necessary to understand the factors influencing quality of higher education in order to continuously improve it. This book aims at documenting and analysing African experience and perspectives on harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation of higher education at all levels: continental, regional, national and institutional levels.
It is now agreed that for several reasons the quality of higher education in Africa has deteriorated since the 1980s. By the mid-1990s the level of this quality had reached such a low level that African countries decided with the support of their development partners to take necessary measures to revitalize higher education.
Fortunately, this commitment came at a time when several initiatives were being implemented at the global level to improve relevance and quality of higher education, particularly with a view to facilitating recognition of qualifications and promoting academic and professional mobility. These initiatives include ratification of the European Regional Convention on the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications in 1997, organisation of the first World Conference on Higher Education in 1998 and implementation of the Bologna Process for the Construction of the European Higher Education Area (Council of Europe, 1997, UNESCO, 1998; Bologna 1999)
From 2005, several initiatives have been taken by African countries to enhance relevance and quality of higher education at continental, regional, national and institutional levels through the design and implementation of appropriate policies and programmes for harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation of programmes and institutions.
These initiatives include the “Bachelor-Master-Doctoral” reform, the African Union Higher Education Harmonisation Strategy, the revision of the Arusha Convention on the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications, the African Quality Rating Mechanism, the Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework and more recently the launch of the processes for establishment of the African Continental Qualifications Framework and the Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency. Several initiatives on harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation are also being implemented at regional level by organisations such as the Inter- University Council for East Africa in the East African Community, the West African Health Organization in the Economic Community of West African States and the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (in its French acronym CAMES) in 19 French-, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries in Central and West Africa. (Shabani, Okebukola and Oyewole, 2014)
Over the last decade, there has been a major trend in Africa and beyond in the development of quality assurance through the establishment and use of National and Regional Qualifications Frameworks initially conceived as instruments for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies along a continuum of agreed levels.
Qualifications frameworks are closely linked to quality assurance mechanisms. Both instruments are used in an integrated way to promote mutual recognition of qualifications and to support the mobility of learners and workers. Qualifications frameworks contribute to recognition of qualifications through their referencing processes. (Shabani, Okebukola; 2017) Since 2019, the African Union, in collaboration with German Agency GIZ, has been engaged in a process of developing the African Continental Qualifications Framework (AU, 2019), which is necessary for the implementation of some of the programmes of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, such as the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area through mutual recognition of qualifications.
Most of the initiatives on harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation in Africa are implemented through regional and international partnerships including: the Joint Africa-European Union Strategy, the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, the German Agency GIZ and a Consortium of African regional organisations led by the Global University Network for Innovation –(GUNI-Africa) and including the Association of African Universities, the African Quality Assurance Network and the CAMES. At the African continental level, the Higher Education Harmonisation Strategy is being implemented through the Tuning Africa Project and the Harmonisation of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education in Africa Initiative (Hahn and Teferra, 2014; HAQAA, 2021).
Since 2006, the consortium has organised 11 international conferences and workshops on quality assurance in higher education in Africa that have helped to build capacity of more than 3,000 people involved in development and implementation of harmonisation, quality assurance and accreditation policies and programmes in Africa.
The Rationale of the Book
The book aims at identifying and analysing achievements, challenges and opportunities related to harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation of higher education in Africa and mapping out ways forward towards the development of quality higher education. The book will also address the issue of quality of online learning which has been a major challenge for higher education institutions since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The book will present rigorous analyses of the policies, fundamental principles, conceptual frameworks and best practices of harmonization, quality assurance and accreditation of higher education in Africa; regional case studies; the implementation of national and regional qualifications frameworks; quality assurance of open and distance learning; and the role of institutional rankings in strengthening quality assurance. Although it focuses on Africa, the book will provide an opportunity to discuss experiences from other regions of the world in order to identify useful lessons that could be adapted to the African situation.
The book is anticipated to include at least 10 chapters, each written by experts, solo or jointly, following the review of resumes and approval by the Lead Editor and the Editor/s. Each chapter, which will be subjected to a double-blind review, may be between 8,000-10,000 words including references that will follow an APA style. All manuscripts are produced in English, with the possibilities of a French abstract, should it become necessary.
Subsequent to the acceptance of the final version of a manuscript, each participating author may need to contribute policy/think pieces on professional and popular platforms, such as the University World News.
The following is a list of anticipated chapters for this book. The content and structure of each chapter will be provided to help guide the discussion between the contributor and the editor/s.
Brief history of higher education in Africa and issues shaping change during and after (post) the colonial period. Twenty-first century developments in higher education across the world and the need for Africa to address quality of products from the higher education system to ensure attainment of Agenda 2063. Emergence of policies around harmonisation and quality assurance and associated AU initiatives. Overview of contents of the chapters of the book.
Chapter 2—Policy and Practical Underpinnings of Harmonisation of Higher Education in Africa
Clarification of the concept of harmonisation of higher education within the African context and global comparisons. Policy on harmonisation within Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25). Dimensions of harmonisation as elucidated in AU policies within the framework of CESA 16-25. Practical implications of harmonisation at the institutional, national, and regional levels. Tracking progress on harmonisation. Analysis of harmonised education and training systems as essentials for the realization of intra-Africa mobility and academic integration through regional cooperation. Challenges to harmonisation and steps at overcoming the obstacles.
Chapter 3— Fundamentals of Quality Assurance in Higher Education
The concept and scope of quality assurance in higher education. Definitions of terms in quality assurance including accreditation, internal and external quality audit, visitation, external examiner system. Fundamental steps in quality assurance of input, process, output and outcomes. Conducting accreditation at the programme and institutional levels. Challenges to quality assurance in higher education in Africa and overcoming the challenges.
Chapter 4— Exemplary Practices in Higher Education Institutional Quality Assurance
The concept and scope of institutional quality assurance including accreditation. Models of institutional quality assurance. Developing, validating and use of instruments for institutional accreditation. Steps in the conduct of institutional accreditation. Training of institutional accreditors. Ethical issues and building trust in institutional accreditation. Impact of institutional quality assurance on teaching and research. Case studies of exemplary practices in institutional quality assurance in Africa and other regions of the world.
Chapter 5— Exemplary Practices in National Quality Assurance in Higher Education
Typical structure and functions of national higher education quality assurance agencies in Africa. Comparative analysis of mandates of national quality assurance agencies in Africa with the rest of the world. Exemplary practices in governance; funding; relationships with institutions; conduct of accreditation and other quality assurance activities; and relationships with government, the general public and other stakeholders within and outside national boundaries. Challenges facing national quality assurance agencies and solutions that work.
Chapter 6— Process, Product and Impact of Programme and Institutional Accreditation
Dimensions of programme and institutional accreditation. Singular and combined advantages and benefits of programme and institutional accreditation. Process of programme accreditation. Process of institutional accreditation. Involvement of a broad spectrum of stakeholders in institutional accreditation including students, parents and employers of labour. Best practices in the training of accreditors and the conduct of site visits for programme and institutional accreditation. Products of programme and institutional accreditation and communicating decisions to institutions and the public by the accrediting agency. Impact of the process and product of programme and institutional accreditation on quality improvement.
Chapter 7— Case Studies of Sub-regional Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa
Case studies of vision, mission, structure, functions, impact, challenges, and strategic plans of sub-regional quality assurance agencies in Africa including IUCEA and CAMES. Detailed comparative analysis of the agencies and lessons that can be learned for the proposed Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency.
Chapter 8— Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa: Lessons from Other Regions
Critical review of quality assurance in higher education practices in Australasia, Europe and North America and lessons that can be learned for institutional, national, subregional and continental quality assurance activities in Africa. Derivation of a contextually relevant model of quality assurance for higher education in Africa that guarantees the successful attainment of Agenda 2063 and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa.
Chapter 9— Implementing National and Regional Qualifications Framework
Concept of qualifications framework. Policy issues on qualifications framework and implications for quality education. Key elements of a qualifications’ framework and sequence from basic to higher education and link with lifelong learning. Examples of national and subregional qualifications framework in Africa and comparative analysis of their effectiveness in promoting quality. Case studies of good practices in implementation of national and regional qualifications framework in Africa and the rest of the world.
Chapter 10— Quality Assurance of Open and Distance Education Systems
Concept of open and distance education. Determinants of quality in an open and distance learning (ODL) system. Review of studies comparing quality of ODL and face-to-face delivery systems. Tools for quality assurance in ODL. Quality assurance of input, process and output. Quality assurance parameters for blended learning that is emerging as the new post-pandemic normal. Case studies of exemplary practices in quality assurance in ODL.
Chapter 11— Quality Assurance and Institutional Ranking
Conceptual issues in institutional ranking. Ranking versus rating. Debate on global trends in university ranking and relationship with institutional quality. Convergence of indicators of quality assurance and ranking. African Quality Rating Mechanism and its use in quality assurance.
Summary of key issues and recommendations from each chapter. Conclusion based on emerging issues in quality assurance stimulated by the pandemic.
- Develop a concept note for the theme
- Identify co/editors
- Identify contributors
- Develop book structure and chapters
- Develop extensive guidelines for contributors
- Invitation to contributors
- Research and write up
- First Draft submission
- Final Submission
- Publishing: Scholarly and popular media
The African Higher Education Series is supported through the joint initiative of the Commissions of the African and European Union for higher education development within HAQAA2 Framework coordinated by OBREAL, in Spain.
Each contributor will be paid a modest, pre-determined, honorarium but the amount may vary, in the case of joint contribution, motivated contributions, unsolicited, but worthy, contributions, among others. The honoraria will be disbursed only after the Lead Editor submits the final and edited version of the manuscript, ready for typesetting, to the Coordinator. In a case where a commercial publisher considers publishing the study, further work may follow and that respective contributors should be able to respond to feedbacks on satisfactorily and timeously.
Professors Juma Shabani and Peter Okebukola will be the lead editors of the book. Juma Shabani is a former Director at UNESCO. He is currently Chairman of the International Coferences on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa, Executive Secretary of the Global University Network for Innovations (GUNI-Africa), and President of the National Commission for Higher Education in Burundi. He coordinates the Sub-Cluster on Harmonization, Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Higher Education Cluster of Africa Union’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA).
Professor Peter Okebukola is a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission in Nigeria. He has served as Team Leader of several quality assurance projects involving UNESCO, the African Union, the World Bank, Association of African Universities and The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) International Quality Group (CIQG); He is currently the President of the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi-Africa).
The Higher Education Series will be headed and coordinated by Prof. Damtew Teferra who is the Founding director of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa at the University of Kwazulu-Natal and the co-coordinator of the Higher Education Cluster. The African Union Commission, through the Department of Human Resources and Science and Technology, HRST, will be its patron. Teferra will serve as a joint editor of the book with Professors Juma Shabani and Peter Okebukola, the lead editors.
Council of Europe, 1997. Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region
UNESCO, 1998. World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action and Framework for Priority Action for Change and Development in Higher Education
Bologna, 1999. The Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999: Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education
Juma Shabani, Peter Okebukola, and Olusola Oyewole. Quality Assurance in Africa: Towards a Continental Higher Education and Research Space. International Journal of African Higher Education, Vol 1, N°1 (2014) pp 139-172 http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/ijahe/article/view/5646
Juma Shabani and Peter A. Okebukola: Qualification Recognition and Frameworks in Africa. In Jane Knight and Emnet Tadesse Woldegiorgis (Eds) “Regionalization of African Higher Education: Progress and Prospects”. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2017.
AU, 2019. The African Union. African Continental Qualifications Framework acqf_infographic_en.pdf (africa-eu-partnership.org)
HAQAA, 2021. Harmonisation of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education in Africa Initiative. About the HAQAA Initiative
Hahn, K., & Teferra, D. (2013). Tuning as an instrument of systematic higher education reform and quality enhancement: The African experience. Tuning Journal for Higher Education Issue No. 1, 127-163.
Analysis of harmonised education and training systems as essentials for the realization of intra-Africa mobility and academic integration through regional cooperation
Quality and relevant education, training and research are core for scientific and technological innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship
Gender equity throughout the education system
Strengthened Institutional capacity
Bringing together actors for credible partnership between government, civil society and private sector