The 9th International Conference on Quality in Higher Education in Africa (ICQAHEA), held in Accra, Ghana, ended last Thursday on a high note with the Director, Directorate of Accreditation of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Dr. Noel BiodunSaliu, elected by the General Assembly of the African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN), to represent Nigeria in the Board as the Vice-President. He will hold this position on behalf of the Commission for the next 2 years.
Before now, Nigeria served as the President of the Network for two terms and had Professor Chiedu Felix Mafiana, who is currently on Sabbatical at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), held the position.
The 9th ICQAHEA was organised under the theme “Quality Higher Education, Harmonisation and Attainment of Sustainable Development Goals in Africa”, and took stock of the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the 8th Conference while identifying the strategies required in order to consolidate the results achieved in enhancing quality and accelerating regional harmonisation.
It was therefore a follow up to the 8th ICQAHEA and addressed the role of quality assurance and regional harmonisation in higher education in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 in order to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
Other sub-themes woven around the main theme of the Workshop include: Recent regional developments in enhancing quality and accelerating harmonisation: lessons from other region; Regional Quality assurance and harmonization Initiatives in Africa: the continental strategy for Education for Africa 2015-2025 (CESA); the Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Initiative; Tuning and Erasmus +; The role of quality assurance and harmonization in higher education institutions in attaining the SDGs in Africa and beyond; and the role of research and development and ICT in higher education institutions in attaining the SDGs.
The objectives of the 9th ICQAHEA and Workshops were to:
- Review recent developments/achievements in enhancing quality and promoting regional harmonisation in Africa and beyond;
- Promote awareness among the African higher education community of recent developments in enhancing quality assurance and accelerating regional harmonisation under the Africa – EU partnership, including the continental strategy for Education for Africa 2015-2025 (CESA); the Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Initiative; Tuning and Erasmus;
- Provide a platform for discussing the role of quality assurance and harmonisation in higher education in attaining sustainable development goals in Africa;
- Document best practices from other regions of the world on quality assurance and harmonisation in higher education in attaining the SDGs and draw lessons for the African region;
- Foster the acquisition of skills in (a) the implementation of the revised Arusha Convention; (b) measurement and modelling of quality in higher education; (c) quality assurance of open and distance learning delivery systems; (d) strengthening effective implementation of LMD reforms; (f) setting up and running effective quality assurance units at the institutional level; and (g) Tuning and Credit Transfer.
Declaring the Workshop open, the Secretary-General, Association of African Universities (AAU), Accra, Ghana, Professor Etienne EhouanEhile, expressed appreciation to the Government of Ghana for constructing the Secretariat for the Association. He also thanked participants that were able to join the AAU for its Golden Jubilee Celebrations and the 14th General Conference. He reminded participants of the various quality assurance initiatives in the continent, noting that the 9th ICQAHEA would enable the conference take stock of how it has fared on the recommendations from the 8th Conference.
Earlier the Chairman, ICQAHEA, Professor JumaShabani, who welcomed participants on behalf of the International and Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Conference, reminded participants that during the Conference, the Workshops on Quality Assurance, the General Assembly of AfriQAN, Symposium of Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Presidents of Universities would hold and further enrich participants’ knowledge on quality assurance. Its outcome, according to him, would be consolidated in a document to the 2018 UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education. The LOC comprised a consortium of Organisations; the AAU, AfriQAN, GUNi Africa, Peregrine Academic Services and Okebukola Science Foundation.
In his welcome remarks, the President of AfriQAN, Professor Chiedu Felix Mafiana commended participants for the Conference, which has consistently held from inception without fail and for the fact that the Conference has provided the platform for AfriQAN General Assembly. He expressed appreciation to AAU for hosting the Secretariat of AfriQAN and also thanked members of AfriQAN for their cooperation during his tenure. He prayed for the extension of the same level of cooperation to a new President that would be elected during the General Assembly.
Goodwill Messages were delivered at the Conference including those from the Senior Education Expert, African Union Commission, Dr. YohannesWoldertensae, and President and CEO, Peregrine Academic Services, Mr. Olin O Oedekoven; AAU and Peregrine Academic Services and AfriQAN Coordinator, Professor Jonathan Mba.
The Keynote Address on the main theme was given by the Chairman of Council, Federal University, Lokoja, Nigeria and Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Professor Nimi Briggs.
Other highlights of the Conference included a symposium for Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Presidents of universities that enabled them to share information on the achievements, challenges, opportunities and prospects of their respective institutions in the use of quality assurance and regional harmonisation in attaining the SDGs in Africa. There was also a discussion on the AfriQAN work plan 2017-2018 as well as subscription and membership dues. The climax was the General Assembly and the election into the Board of AfriQAN. The full composition and representation of countries in the Board is as follows:
- President – CAMES, Burkina Faso
- Vice-President – NUC , Nigeria
- Treasurer – CNAQ, Mozambique
- Member representing Southern Africa – CHE Lesotho.
- Member representing East Africa – TCU, Tanzania
- Member representing West Africa – ANAQ-SUP, Senegal.
Meanwhile, Northern and Central Africa were requested to send the institutions representing them to the Secretariat.
The Conference proceeded in 6 Plenaries, 2 Special Sessions, a Workshop (Parallel Session) and a Parallel Session for Contributed Paper Presentations with a total of 28 reports and papers presented. The presentations were followed with discussions during which the sub-themes of the conference were thoroughly examined and far-reaching recommendations made.
It was attended by 150 Participants from 22 countries that included Ministers in charge of Education/Higher Education/Science and Technology/ICTs and Labour; Permanent Secretaries/ Directors-General of Education and Senior Officials; Heads and management teams of national and regional quality assurance agencies; Vice-Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts of higher education institutions; Officers and Members of AfriQAN; Officers in charge of higher education at the African Union Commission; Quality Assurance practitioners; Experts in ICT, teaching and research in higher education; Civil society; Staff Unions; Students and Students’ Associations; Professional associations; Employers or employers’ associations; Development Partners including the ADEA and the European Union; Stakeholders in education in Africa; and Stakeholders in higher education from other regions of the world.