Reverend John Ntim Fordjour, Deputy Minister of Education says the harmonisation of higher education and quality assurance in the African continent will ensure sustainable continental transformation.
He explained that higher education on the continent had similar challenges and opportunities, hence, the need for harmonisation to ensure mobility of skills, labour, and continental integration.
Rev. Ntim Fordjour, speaking at the opening of the phase two of the final Harmonisation of African Higher Education, Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA2) conference held in Accra.
HAQAA2, is an initiative that has been established to support the development of a harmonised quality assurance and accreditation systems at institutional, national, regional and Pan-African continental level.
It is funded by the European Union Commission, in the context of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership – Higher Education Programme, which aims at improving the quality and relevance of higher education in Africa.
Phase one of HAQAA was implemented from 2016-2018. HAQAA2 (2019 – 2022) is intended to build upon, upscale and promote the results of HAQAA1
The conference was themed, “Harmonization, Accreditation and Quality Assurance in African Higher Education: Accomplishments and next steps.”
Rev. Ntim Fordjour said there was a strong relationship between poverty and education and that Africa could overcome poverty if education was prioritised.
He said quality education could unlock the potential of the teaming youth and equip them with the needed skills to support nation building efforts.
The Deputy Minister said, harmonisation and strengthening of the quality of higher education in Africa were in line with the African Union Agenda 2063, “the Africa We Want’.
“The continental agenda is an essential instrument for facilitating the African Union ratified Continental Free Trade Area, an integrated Africa is a primary transformational outcome of Agenda 2063, encompassing free movement of persons, free trade, and African common education space for all African learners,” he said.
Rev. Ntim Fordjour said the efforts would culminate in Africa’s long-time desire for harmonized higher education systems to facilitate the mobility of trained people and recognition of their qualifications.
Professor Olusola Oyewole, Secretary General, Association of African Universities said HAQAA2 had supported a series of online policy dialogue events entitled, ‘the Continental Education Strategy for Africa, of the African Union (CESA) Higher Education in Focus’ with a common thread linked to data collection for policy making in African higher education.
He said the events were proposed as part of the Policy Component of HAQAA2, which provided support for the implementation of CESA ‘Cluster’ of stakeholders responsible for higher education.
Professor Oyewole, had helped harmonisation process, develop Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework, instituted Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency, facilitated Regional Integration and Intra-Regional collaboration and Policy Data Unit.
He said the HAQAA initiative had strengthened the efforts that were underway towards the harmonization of higher education that would facilitate the transferability and comparability of qualifications among countries.
Mr Douglas Blackstock, President, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, said there was the pressing need for the continent to learn from others who had a well-built higher education system.
He said that was because education was key to sustainability as it assisted countries in developing their economies.
Ms Elizabeth Colucci, Director of Global Projects and HAQAA2 Coordinator, OBREAL Global, said higher education was a vehicle for development as it was a global business which could be leveraged for lots of benefits.
She, therefore, recognised the European Union (EU) and the EU Commission for its unflinching support towards the attainment of the initiative’s goals.