East African Qualifications Framework for Higher Education

The coming into force of the EAC Common Market Protocol in July 2010 prompted the urgent need to develop tools and systems for the operationalization of Article 11 of the Protocol in order to facilitate easy mobility of learners and labour. This, among others, required the establishment of a framework to enable mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications across the region. Thus, in 2013 and 2014 IUCEA guided a regional consultative and participatory process that led to the development of the East African Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (EAQFHE), which was approved by the EAC Council of Ministers on 30th April 2015.

A Qualifications Framework (QF) is an instrument for the development and classification of qualifications according to a set of criteria for levels of learning and skills achieved. The purpose of a QF is to integrate education and training into a unified structure of recognized qualifications. It seeks to ensure effective comparability of qualifications and credit across the education training systems and facilitate the recognition of those qualifications outside the borders of that education system. The principles of a qualifications framework such as portability and transparency of qualifications lead to criteria with which all providers of qualifications are expected to comply. The QF establishes commonality across different qualifications and specifies qualifications in terms of standards, levels and outcomes.

Qualifications frameworks are globally regarded as all encompassing tools for guiding systematic approaches to human resources development. As such, they are designed to serve as useful instruments for guiding higher education institutions in curriculum development, delivery, assessment and certification, in line with the needs of the labour market. Hence, EAQFHE was developed both as a higher education supportive tool and as an instrument for guiding structured human resources development in the EAC region, focusing on skills and competences development, and the relevance of such skills and competences to the region’s human resources needs.

EAQFHE is a generic instrument for the region, onto which the Partner States’ national qualifications frameworks will be aligned for the purpose of harmonization and synchronization of education and training systems, and the qualifications attained in the EAC Partner States. The major building blocks of the EAQFHE in harmonization of higher education systems include a Credit Accumulation and Transfer System, Qualifications Levels, Levels Descriptors, Articulation and Exit Pathways, and Recognition of Prior Learning. The Levels Descriptors provide details on the competences and expected learning outcomes to be achieved by a learner at each particular learning level. EAQFHE is divided into 8 Qualifications Levels, of which Levels 5 – 8 constitute higher education (Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral) qualifications. IUCEA is now in the process of developing strategies for operationalization of the EAQFHE, including establishment of the policy frameworks spelt out in the EAQFHE document, and undertaking sensitization and capacity building of the potential users of the framework.

IUCEA is now in the process of developing strategies for operationalization of the EAQFHE, including establishment of the policy frameworks spelt out in the EAQFHE document and these include:

  • Qualifications Issuance Policy
  • Qualifications Pathways Policy
  • Qualifications Register Policy
  • Policy on Qualifications Type Addition and Removal
  • Guidelines on Programme/Subject Benchmarking
  • Guidelines for Alignment of EAQFHE with International Qualifications Framework
  • Recognition of Prior Learning Policy