East African Nations Develop Plans for Regional Accreditation System
In response to concerns over the proliferation of sub-standard private and foreign universities, the three member countries of the East African Community — Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda — announced plans in June to build a regional system of accreditation and quality assurance.
At a three-day meeting in Nairobi, hosted by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and the German Academic Exchange Service, education officials from the three countries agreed to begin developing a regional accreditation and quality assurance body that will be charged with coordinating efforts to set quality standards across the region and prevent the opening of diploma mills and poor quality private universities. The Council will soon conduct a comprehensive survey of the scope and the curriculum of degree programs at universities in the region, according to newspaper reports.
Public universities in the three East African nations have been unable to meet a demand for university places that has become increasingly heavy in recent years, just as national regulatory bodies have been slow to accredit and oversee the mushrooming private institutions that have emerged to meet that demand. In Kenya, for example, less than one quarter of students looking for a university place are able to find one at the country’s public universities and accredited private institutions of higher education.
The new initiative will be spearheaded by the IUCEA and will target unaccredited programs and institutions, including foreign branch campuses and internet-based programs. In Kenya last year, for example, 231 degree programs offered by Newport International University, in Nairobi were deemed to be below acceptable standards. The university was shuttered after Kenyan officials said the university had no authority to award degrees in Kenya. NIU claims a license from the U.S. state of Wyoming, a state that until recently has had very lax licensing laws and has been home to a number of well-known degree mills.
While trying to outlaw bogus international schools and programs, the three countries have said that they will work to produce a set of laws to regulate the establishment of programs or branch campuses of internationally recognized institutions.
Universities Register for Education Council Certification
Botswana’s Tertiary Education Council (TEC) has called for all of the country’s institutions that offer post-secondary education to register with the organization for an official evaluation. The TEC is registering institutions in an effort to eliminate bogus institutions and to better regulate private tertiary institutions. All of the institutions registering with the TEC will undergo a two-month evaluation process that assesses the school’s contribution to society, the infrastructure available for professors and students, organizational and academic standards, and their potential to remain profitable.
According to the TEC’s Executive Secretary Patrick Molutsi, many institutions responded quickly to the organizations request for registration, encouraged by the future prospect of government-sponsored enrollees. The University of Botswana, the Institute of Health Sciences-Gaborone, Botswana College of Agriculture and Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning have already registered with the TEC for validation. The TEC is assisting in making necessary improvements at public institutions that do not meet the requirements for official registration and validation. Some institutions that have applied for university status from the TEC have been turned down due to a lack of funds. Any tertiary institution that fails to register by the end of the year will reportedly face legal action.
— Mmegi/The Reporter
June 16, 2006
Democratic Republic of Congo
New University Center in North West
Situated on the Congo River in Lisala Province to the north west of the country, Lisala University Center was inaugurated as a constituent college of the University of Kinshasa in June. Classes in the faculties of law, psychology, education, agriculture, medicine, and social science will begin in October of this year.
The University of Kinshasa was established in 1954 under Belgian colonial rule as the University of Lovanium. In 1971, it was merged with two other institutions to form the National University of Zaire, which in turn was re-separated in the 1980s, a realignment that created the present-day Universities of Kinshasa, Kisangani and Lubumbashi.
— Association of Francophone Universities
June 26, 2006
South African University to Open Distance Learning Center
The University of South Africa (UNISA), one of the largest and oldest distance-education providers in the world, will open a center this year to enable the provision of UNISA programs in Ethiopia. The establishment of the new center comes as a result of meeting between high-ranking Ethiopian government officials and Nicolas Bwakira, the Director of UNISA. Programs will be offered in marketing and information and communication services, and a number of tutorials in a range of other subjects will be offered also. Registration will begin in September.
— The Daily Monitor
May 28, 2006
Institute of Journalism Status Upgraded
It has been announced by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Science that the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) will be upgraded to a degree-granting institution and in the future will be funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund. A bill passed in June gives GIJ the mandate to train Ghanaians in journalism, mass communications, advertising, public relations and information technology. Oversight for the institution will be moved from the Ministry of Information and National Orientation to the Ministry of Education.
The decision to transfer the administration of the institute to the education ministry comes after some reports of poor quality reporting in the African nation. GIJ will petition the government for full accreditation from the accreditation board to design its own programs and offer its own degrees, services that had previously been provided through a loose affiliation with the University of Ghana. GIJ currently has an enrollment of less than 500 students, a number the government sees as inadequate and plans to expand into the thousands in the near future.
— Ghanaian Chronicle
June 23, 2006
University of London Offers Program
Two Southern African Nations Forge Agreement on Recognition of Credentials and Institutions
The Namibian Qualifications Authority (NQA) signed cooperation agreements in June with the Botswana Training Authority and the Tertiary Council of Botswana in an effort to strengthen the recognition of educational qualifications between the two countries, while also establishing the means to better regulate transnational provision and guard against low-quality providers.
The NQA is the peak body responsible for quality assurance in the Namibian higher education system, a role that is shared by the two Botswana authorities signatory to the agreements.
— The New Era
The University of London now offers programs in eight different countries around the world through ‘permission to teach’ agreements. Under this latest agreement with the Ghanaian college classes will start in September of this year. The two-year program offers students the chance to continue their studies upon graduation with advanced placement into the University of London Bachelor of Science program in Computing and Information Systems. The cost of pursuing the program in Ghana is estimated to be just six percent of what it would cost in London.
The University of London has similar ‘permission to teach’ agreements with institutions in Greece, Iraq, Malta, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, and the West Indies,
— Ghanaian Chronicle
July 31, 2006
Polytechnic to Offer Degree Programs through Partnership with Scottish University
Mombasa Polytechnic — one of Kenya’s four national polytechnics — will be able to offer degree courses for the first time under a new partnership with Edinburgh-based Napier University. The agreement will see the Scottish university provide course materials and training for lecturers at the polytechnic.
The Kenyan government wants to see its polytechnics upgraded, and investment in equipment for Mombasa Polytechnic is already helping to change the face of tertiary training in the country. Now it wants to go a step further and offer vocational qualifications that are industry relevant, to this end it has contracted the help of Napier University. Details on course and curriculum specifics have not been made public.
— The Scotsman
June 29, 2006
American University Cultivates Relationship with Liberian Institution
Officials from Oklahoma University (OU) in the United States visited United Methodist University (UMU) in Monrovia recently to discuss the establishment of a “sisterly” relationship between the two institutions. Once established, officials explained, the partnership would promote the exchange of scholarship programs for students at both universities. Liberian students would have the opportunity to travel to Oklahoma to pursue studies of their choice, while Oklahoma students would enjoy the same privilege at UMU. OU officials spent two weeks in Monrovia conducting surveys of Liberian students to better understand how to make the agreement as beneficial as possible.
— The Inquirer
June 22, 2006
Shorter Teacher Training Programs Introduced in Effort to Meet Demand at Primary Schools
The Ministry of Education announced in recent weeks that, beginning next year, new and shorter teacher training programs are to be introduced in an effort to meet rapidly increasing demand at elementary schools. According to statements from high-ranking education officials, the country currently does not have the capacity to educate enough teachers.
The push to increase access to schooling under the UNESCO-backed Education for All initiatives has reportedly resulted in impressive enrollment increases, but has also led to a great need for qualified teachers — a situation that is not unique to Mozambique. The ministry’s mission is twofold: to increase the number of teachers and to decrease the number of unqualified teachers. The ministry reports that the teacher-to-pupil ratio has risen from 62 pupils per teacher in 1999 to 74 in 2005.
The reforms will see teacher-training programs shortened from two years to one. Primary teacher training institutes will admit students with a grade 10 education or better, and will receive assistance from the Pedagogic University (a degree-level teacher-training university) for the accelerated one-year training program.
— Agencia de “Informacao de Mocambique”
June 21, 2006
First Students Enter 7th Grade in New Contiguous Nine-Year Primary Education Cycle
Students who entered primary one at the beginning of the Universal Basic Education program in 2000 are set to make history again as they enter junior secondary Class One without having to take the National Common Entrance Examination, with the official start in September of the new nine-year basic-education cycle. Under Nigerian law, all children are now guaranteed nine years of uninterrupted, tuition-free basic education.
— This Day
July 12, 2006
Secondary Teacher Shortage Shored Up
Facing a potentially disastrous shortage of secondary-school teachers, Tanzanian authorities embarked on an intensive two-month recruitment drive in July to employ nearly 6,000 teachers. According to Minister of Education and Vocational Training Margareth Sitta, the country needs 9,500 teachers to staff its 1,699 public secondary schools, but faces a shortfall of 5,793. To take on the massive task of enlisting nearly 6,000 new teachers, the government plans to offer a crash course in the teaching of some 3,500 recent secondary school graduates meeting specific criteria set out by the education authorities. Around 250 retired teachers will also be reinstated and funds have been secured to recruit 260 university graduates.
Tanzania has experienced a rapid increase in the number of secondary-school enrollees over the last three years after the implementation of the five-year Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP) that began in 2004, under which 1,050 new secondary schools were built countrywide. Following the SEDP initiative, secondary-school enrollments jumped 49 percent.
— UN IRIN
June 20, 2006
List of Legal Universities Released
Uganda’s National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has released a list of universities and public degree-awarding tertiary institutions with legal permission to operate in the country. The list includes four public and 16 private universities along with one university college. Five new tertiary institutions have also been provisionally authorized to award university degrees. Not included on the list of validated institutions were the private Namasagali University and Luweero University. The publishing of the list is in line with a 2001 law which prohibits the function of any university without the proper provisional license, charter, or certificate. Below is a partial list of institutions with legal permission to operate in Uganda:
Institutions with Provisional Licenses: Africa Bible College at Lubowa, Bishop Barham University College in Kabale, Mountains of the Moon University in Fort Portal and Uganda Pentecostal University in Fort Portal
Uganda Management Institute, though not a university, is a licensed degree awarding public institution.
Primary Schooling Extended to Encompass Grades 8 & 9
The Zambian government announced recently that it will eliminate grades 8 and 9 from high school in order to extend the duration of primary schooling. According to Education Minister Brian Chituwo, the government is pursuing an overhaul of the education infrastructure in order to improve teaching conditions for instructors at all levels.
— The Post
July 26, 2006
School Fee Hikes Drop School Enrollment Rates to Lowest Level in Years
Once considered the best education system in Africa, with almost universal primary and secondary enrollment, the school system in Zimbabwe has been decimated over the last five years by runaway inflation and recent fee hikes that have caused more children than ever to drop out of school.
Fees were hiked tenfold at most state schools in the new academic semester, which began in May, leaving many families with no option but to pull their children from school. Child rights organizations quoted by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting predict that many children will resort to begging, prostitution and child labor just to survive.
Even those children fortunate enough to attend school, now estimated to be well below 50 percent, face dire shortages in the classroom. Teachers are leaving the country in droves to find employment elsewhere, thousands have been killed by the AIDS epidemic, and a majority of schools have little or no textbooks, stationary or chalk. As recently as 2000, school enrollment stood at 93 percent.
— The Institute for War and Peace Reporting
June 26, 2006