DAAD and IUCEA signed a Memorandum of Understanding for further collaboration in the next five years.
Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) Kampala, Uganda, May 24th2016:The Executive Secretary of the Inter-University Council for East Africa, Prof. Alexandre Lyambabaje calls for universities to take a further step from publications to development of innovative products and policies.
Prof Alexandre was addressing a High Level Dialogue Meeting of Vice-Chancellors, Deputy Vice-Chancellorsand Heads of Commissions/Councils for Higher Education and members of East African Higher Education Quality Assurance Network (EAQAN). The meeting was the culmination of the EAQAN Forum which kicked off on Monday 16th May, 2016, followed by EAQAN General Assembly on 18th May. Both events took place at the Imperial Golf View Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda.
The conference and the meeting was also attended by participants from Ghana, Ivory Coast and Somalia to learn from East African countries on the development of quality assurance systems in universities.
Prof. Lyambabaje told the participants of the meeting that among the priority areas of the Inter-University Council for East Africa’s coordination is to promote and encourage research within higher learning institutions. He however,expressed that in some cases, it has been realized that some universities are prioritizing the end result of their work as publications which of course go with promotion of staff instead of innovation and products as end results.He therefore urged universities to view publishing in a different aspect of moving from publications to development of innovative products and policies which will contribute to the development of socio-economic transformation in the East African region.
On the efforts being made in the development of quality assurance systems in East African universities, the Executive Secretary, emphasized the importance of communicating quality assurance matters in a user friendly language to enable its articulation and understanding by diverse stakeholders, among them being policy makers, administrators and ordinary people. He stressed that by making quality assurance issues in higher education understood by stakeholders, contributes into attracting more support and realization of the objectives of interventions which results in more funding from governments, partners and other stakeholders.
“We need also to assess how effectively the developed tools in quality assurance are used in our institutions” said Prof. Lyambabaje citing an example of the current trend where many parents in the East African region are sending their children to study in universities outside East Africa especially abroad. According to Prof. Lyambabaje, there must be a reason for parents doing so. He therefore called for universities to create confidence in parents and develop higher learning institutions to enable retain students in East African universities. In addition to that Prof Lyambabaje sees the need for streamlining administration so that university teaching staff and professors feel valued and at the end being retained.
On preparation of pre-university students Prof. Lyambabaje compared secondary school leavers as industrial raw materials of universities who need proper preparation. Citing an example of industrial products which involves different processes of production from first stage to the last which is an end product, Prof. Lyambabaje urged the participants to look critically on how prepared are secondary school students which according to him are like raw materials for universities expecting to be processed to the end product which is the labor market.
Commenting on challengesfacing public universities whose human resources are shifting to private universities, Prof. Lyambabaje suggested a dialogue between public and privates universities and working out strategieson how to share the bestavailable human resources, since both public and private universities have the same goals of serving the Community.
The Executive Secretary assured the participants that IUCEA will continue setting aside some funds to support staff mobility in universities but he called for the universities and IUCEA to sit together and find out strategies for co-founding the staff mobility programme so that many universities benefit from that initiative.
Informing the participants on the progress made on the Eastern and Southern African Centers of Excellency (ACE II) project, which will serve as an incentive of students mobility within the region Prof. Lyambabaje revealed to the participants that, the World Bank has lend 140 million USD Dollars to Governments to establish Regional Centers of Excellency to the participating countries which are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania Uganda Zimbabwe and Zambia. Among the 24 established Centers of Excellency 15 are in the East African Partner States of which each country will receive 6 million USD to establish one center.
On benchmarking of study programmes Prof. Lyambabaje told the participants that a number of benchmark of study programmes have been developed while others are underway. However the Executive Secretary observed the need to commit more funds to speed up and complete the process. He informed the participants that IUCEA is working out strategies which will make sure that more funds are committed to develop other programme benchmarks within the shortest time possible and be in use since the completion of that exercise will contribute to the realization of East African Common Higher Education Area.
On supporting of East African innovative ideas Prof. Lyambabaje revealed to the participants that IUCEA is holdingits AnnualMeeting under the theme “Research and Innovation towards Socio-Economic Transformation of East African Community” where key note presentations and experiences will be shared from Makerere University on Kiira Car Project, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology on Low Coast Water Filter and M-PESA on growing financial inclusion from Kenya which has proved to be the best tool in transferring money within the East African region and beyond. “How do we support such initiatives” asked Prof Lyambabaje.
In his remarks to the meeting, Prof. Opuda-Asibo John, theExecutive Director, National Council for Higher Education, Uganda, urged EAQAN to be more effective by going beyond from what it is doing currently and play the role of advising university senates and even present papers which can be discussed at senate levels. He urged QA Committees in universities to promote academic freedom and research and building staff capacity in quality assurance matters. Prof.Opuda observed the need forSenior Professorsto support young university staff so that they grow in their fields.
Commending the work done in collaboration with IUCEA, Dr. Helmut Blumbach, the Germany Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Director, Regional Office for Africa, said that DAAD and IUCEA are in the process of signing the Memorandum of Understanding whose thematic areas for future collaboration will include:strengthening partnership and collaboration between industries and universities in curriculum development, training and applied research and internationalization of higher education. At the end of the meeting, Dr. Helmut Blumbach and Prof. Alexandre Lyambabaje signed that Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration in the next five years.
The Forum and Dialogue meeting were organized by IUCEA in collaboration with the National Council for Higher Education, (NCHE), Uganda, the Germany Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Germany Rectors’ Conference (HRK). EAQAN Network was established as an avenue to bring together quality assurance practitioners, top administrators of Higher Education Institutions, Executives members of national accreditation bodies, higher education researchers and policy makers to share ideas on quality assurance practices, challenges and prospects in the East African Higher Education Area.
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