Harmonised education framework to benefit East Africa students

Kenya National Qualifications Authority director Juma Mukhwana

Kenya National Qualifications Authority director Juma Mukhwana who says said Kenya is the only country within the region that has an operating qualifications system.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Students in eight East African countries will be able to transfer course credit and other academic credentials to other schools and workplaces in the region once a qualification framework is completed by the end of this year.

Education ministers and policymakers are drafting a harmonised qualifications framework that will enable students from member countries to also take up jobs across the region.

Speaking during the third conference of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), the stakeholders said the adoption of such policies is long overdue.

Kenya National Qualifications Authority director Juma Mukhwana said Kenya is the only country in the region that has an operating qualifications system.

“The ideal plan is that every country should be able to come up with their own qualification framework and then align it with the Igad framework,” said Dr Mukhwana.

The framework will involve eight countries who are members of the Igad.

They are Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

Integration of refugees

Dr Mukhwana said the regional qualifications framework also seeks to support integration of refugees and returnees into the national educational and training systems in the region.

“The whole idea is to make it easier for citizens to move across the regions with their qualifications either to look for work or to further studies,” he said.

Before the national qualification framework was implemented in Kenya, Dr Mukhwana said, it was challenging for universities to assess the academic papers and performance of students from other countries for admission to Kenyan universities.

He said this resulted in some universities admitting students with lower qualifications.

“However, with a regional framework, universities will be able to equate a student’s grade to that of other countries within the region,” said Dr Mukhwana.

He said the framework will set the standard and harmonise qualifications in a way that will make it easier for students to transfer their credits from one university to another in Igad member countries.

Dr Kebede Tsegaye, the Igad regional senior programme coordinator for education, science and technology, said the harmonised qualification programme is part of regional integration.

“We are not pushing to have a similar curriculum for the region but a harmonised framework that will enable students and our citizens to study and work anywhere using similar qualifications,” he said.

The Igad region collectively hosts about 4.2 million refugees and 9.6 million internally displaced persons.

A majority of the people are those that have been forcefully evicted from their homes and villages due to ongoing conflicts.

Developing a regional qualifications framework is grounded in the vision of creating a more conducive environment for citizens of the region to have access to quality education.

Strengthen mechanisms

It will also strengthen mechanisms for recognising and assessing the equivalency of educational standards and qualifications at the national, regional and international levels.

Dr Fatuma Adan, the head of the Igad mission in Kenya, said the framework will be a major pillar as it will be a tool for regional integration.

“If we have allowed ourselves to move across the regions, then we need a harmonised qualification framework that enables everyone within the region to work anywhere with their education qualifications,” she said.

Education stakeholders asked countries to establish regional minimum education standards and targets on access and delivery of quality education for pre-primary, primary, secondary and higher education, including technical and vocational education training.

The roadmap for the Igad framework recommends that the qualifications allow for the transfer, accreditation and recognition of learning rather than prescribing which qualifications can be offered in different member states.


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