As an introduction, I wish to inform you that towards the end of last year (2010), IUCEA underwent changes in its top leadership. Thus, with effect from 6th November 2010, I took over from Prof Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha as the IUCEA Executive Secretary, for a non-renewable term of five years. Prof. Chacha who was from the Republic of Kenya successfully completed his term of office on 5th November 2010 after having served as IUCEA Executive Secretary for ten years. I come from the United Republic of Tanzania. Similarly, on 1st September 2010, Prof. Pontien Ndabaneze who comes from the Republic of Burundi took over from Prof. Moses Golola from the Republic of Uganda as IUCEA Deputy Executive Secretary, for a term of three years renewable once.
On behalf of IUCEA, all staff, and on my own behalf I wish to express sincere appreciations to Professors Chacha and Golola for having steered IUCEA to its current status as a strategic institution of EAC in the area of higher education and research development for the East African region. Prof. Ndabaneze, all IUCEA staff, and myself are determined to advance from where Professors Chacha and Golola had taken the institution to even higher levels, so that IUCEA becomes truly an institution of EAC that is responsible for the strategic development of higher education and research in East Africa through facilitating support and promoting networking among universities in the region, and between them and universities beyond the region.
IUCEA is one of the autonomous EAC institutions; as such one of the strategic interventions indicated in the EAC Development Strategy focuses on the need to transform IUCEA into an all embracing research and human resources development institution in East Africa. Furthermore, the IUCEA Act that the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) enacted in 2009 provides for mainstreaming IUCEA into the EAC institutional framework. In order to operationalize the Act, alignment of the IUCEA institutional framework to the Act is imperative so as to make IUCEA a truly strategic institution of EAC.
Therefore, we consider it important for IUCEA to systematically develop strategies that will lead to the realization of the above stated transformation through the involvement of higher education institutions and other stakeholders in the region. We believe that such strategies should include promoting and supporting dialogue and strategic thinking with stakeholder institutions and the general public, aimed at identifying areas in higher education curricula and relevant research that will support human resources capacity building for East Africa's sustainable socio-economic development and to promote the region's global competitiveness. We believe that similar interventions should also aim at promoting and expanding higher education equity and access opportunities, so as to attain a critical mass of graduates required to sustain socio-economic development in the region, and to satisfy current and future human resources needs, particularly for the emerging socio-economic opportunities. There is also the need to take into consideration gender perspectives focused on closing the gender gap in access to higher education and in university leadership in the region. But in so doing, there is always the need to maintain the quality standards of the education provided to the levels set internationally. In this regard, therefore, IUCEA continues to institute appropriate interventions.
As an initial stage in our above stated ambition, we have developed a roadmap that will guide strategic planning and specific priotization of identified interventions through formulating IUCEA five-year strategic plans, starting with the 2011-2016 strategic plan. The strategic interventions specified in the roadmap have already been integrated into the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011-2016) and they focus on the following areas:
- Operationalizing the IUCEA Act 2009 and implementing the full integration of IUCEA into the EAC institutional framework;
- Enhancing university support systems by developing, promoting and supporting student and staff exchange programmes, including establishing appropriate regional student fee structures to support ease mobility of students among universities in the region; strengthening and supporting thematic academic cluster forums; enhancing curriculum development strategies; systematically enhancing university leadership skills and competences; promoting knowledge on gender and gender mainstreaming strategies in universities; promoting regional and international networking of universities; supporting strategic university/industry/community engagement; and mainstreaming ICT into institutional core functions and general support operations;
- Strengthening research support to universities; promoting strategic university/industry/community cooperation through enhancing the existing research support systems and facilities and developing new ones; developing research programmes relevant to regional thematic areas and those targeting to achieve the EAC goals; supporting universities to develop and maintain appropriate intellectual property regimes; and supporting inter-university research and postgraduate training partnerships linked to collaborative regional research programmes;
- Strengthening higher education quality assurance processes through diversification of on-going activities in this area so as to enhance regional and international comparability of quality standards of education in the region; promoting harmonization of higher education quality standards and systems in order to promote global competitiveness of the EAC region; establishing an East African credit system to facilitate, among others, exchange of students and academic programmes between universities in the region; and, subsequently establishing an East African system of quality assurance;
- Enhancing regional research management and coordination systems for the region; promoting and supporting research programmes that address common interests and challenges that the EAC Partner States experience; and sharing of research results in the region;
- Supporting higher education research in the Community so as to establish a regional education research repository that would support harmonization of education systems and developmental reforms in the education sector in the Community;
- Establishing an East African qualification framework to facilitate harmonization of education and training systems, and student mobility across the region on the one hand, and harmonization of skills, competences and qualifications on the other, so as to simplify mutual recognition of qualifications, skills and competences across the region as envisioned in the EAC Common Market Protocol;
- Supporting the EAC regional integration process through various strategies, including advocating for the integration ideals and goals; and mainstreaming the EAC integration ideals into IUCEA activities, university curricula, research programmes, etc.; and
- Supporting establishment of systems for the university of the future by promoting responsiveness of university institutions in the region to both excellence and relevance to the society, creating institutional alignment focused on achieving national/regional competitiveness in the global knowledge economy while embracing national/regional competitive advantage(s), setting strategies to accommodate expanded student enrolment so as to attain a critical mass of graduate citizenry in the region in view of the fact that UNESCO projects 40-50% enrolment in higher education for a country to effectively function in the global knowledge economy, or the UN projection of a minimum of 10% of the population constituting university graduates for a country to maintain sustainable socio-economic development, and contributing towards promoting sustainable transformation and growth throughout the economy by providing learning systems that are capable of producing graduates who possess the right kind of knowledge, skills and mindset.
In order to effectively operationalize the IUCEA Act 2009 and to align the institution towards implementing the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011 – 2016), recently a process to review the IUCEA institutional structure was initiated. The review that will be completed before the end of 2011 takes into consideration the current and future focus of IUCEA as indicated in the IUCEA Act 2009, IUCEA Roadmap, and the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011-2016).
From the developments indicated above, it is imperative that IUCEA should reflect on what the envisaged transformation means, and where need be, the legal and operational instruments be reviewed in order to establish a better institutional focus on the IUCEA mandate. All these interventions are intended to improve institutional effectiveness of IUCEA in meeting stakeholder expectations. We continue with the implementation of these interventions.
Prof. Mayunga H.H. Nkunya