Strengthening African networks in quality assurance and recognition of qualifications

The Workshop for the Implementation of Component 3 of the UNESCO-Shenzhen Funds-In-Trust Project on Strengthening Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa, was held from 18 to 20 February, in Dakar, Senegal. Experts, managers and government officials from national quality assurance agencies, regional quality assurance networks, and ministries of higher education, attended the workshop and discussed the strengthening of continental networks in quality assurance, and the development of tools for mutual recognition of qualifications in Africa.

The UNESCO-Shenzhen Project, a partnership between UNESCO and the Shenzhen Municipal Government of China, aims at strengthening higher education systems through the development of quality assurance mechanisms in 10 African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, The Gambia, Togo, and Zambia). Mr Honghao Zhang, Cultural Counsellor of the P.R. China to Senegal, attended the opening ceremony, and highlighted the importance of south-south cooperation in promoting academic mobility with the internationalization of higher education.

Mr. Dimitri Sanga, Director of the UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office in Dakar, emphasized the importance of national quality assurance systems in enhancing the quality of higher education and in promoting mutual recognition of diplomas to enable the mobility of graduates. “We hope the young man or young woman who obtain their engineering diploma in Senegal to be able to work in other countries, such as Burkina Faso or the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

The implementation of Component 3 of the Project was officially launched in November 2018 at the UNESCO Regional Consultation Meeting on Quality Assurance in Higher Education for Anglophone and Lusophone Countries in Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa). Following the launch, UNESCO conducted a survey with the participation of regional quality assurance networks and quality assurance agencies in Africa, which laid the foundation for discussions.

The Workshop at Dakar obtained baseline information in quality assurance systems in African countries, identified best practices in recognitions of qualifications, and facilitated discussions on the development of tools for mutual recognition of qualifications in Africa.

Mr Lamine Gueye, Executive Secretary of the National Authority for Quality Assurance in Higher Education of Senegal (ANAQ-SUP), indicated that “the partnership with the UNESCO-Shenzhen project fostered mutual understanding for the harmonization of the means of evaluation between the African countries in the sub-region”. During the workshop, the Network of National Quality Assurance Agencies for French-speaking Africa (RAFANAQ) was established with the adoption of its constitutive texts by the founding members.

With the development of tools of mutual recognition of qualifications, the enhancement of quality assurance networks, and capacity-building for quality assurance agencies, the Project also facilitates the implementation of the revised UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in African States (Addis Convention). Mr Peter Wells, Chief of section of higher education as UNESCO, congratulates the countries in the progress made so far in this regards: “Ratification of the Addis Convention sends a clear message to the African sister countries and the world beyond that African higher education is open to cooperation, open to inter-regional mobility, and has a collective good will to enhance the quality of higher learning and research”.