The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) is drafting a qualifications framework to boost integration and open up education and job opportunities for students and citizens across the region.
Igad regional senior programme coordinator in charge of Education, Science and Technology Dr Kebede Tsegaye said a regional qualification framework will enable people to move freely across the region with their education qualifications.
“Currently, if you have a certificate from one country, you are not easily recognised in the next and this has been a big challenge to our integration and unity,” said Dr Tsegaye in Nairobi, Kenya, at the third conference of the Igad Qualifications Framework.
So far, he said, only Kenya has an operational qualifications framework.
Ethiopia’s Education and Training Authority director general Andualem Admassle Abate said the country is at an advanced stage of developing its framework.
“We already have the green light to develop the national qualifications framework for Ethiopia and we are ready to work with other member countries to streamline our education systems,” he said.
Dr Abate said the regional qualifications will solve the challenges that citizens and graduates from foreign countries have faced in the past due to lack of a centralised system to validate their foreign education qualifications.
Sudan’s National Centre for Curriculum and Education Researches General Manager Dr Moawia Elsir Gashi said implementation of a regional framework will enhance the regions functional relationships.
“Harmonisation of qualifications will enable students from the region to transfer credit courses and also find jobs within the region using their country’s education qualification,” said Dr Gashi.
The Kenya National Qualifications Authority Director Juma Mukhwana said the regional qualifications framework will support integration of refugees, host communities and returnees into the National Educational and Training Systems.
“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.
Igad — whose members are Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda — hosts about 4.2 million refugees and 9.6 million internally displaced persons.
In Kenya, universities and colleges are required to seek validation of the foreign student’s qualifications before admitting them.
Dr Mukhwana said this is to ensure that only students who have met the prerequisite entry requirements for admission to universities and colleges are admitted in the country.
In the eight countries, the education systems have set individual entry requirements to the university.
Head of Igad mission in Kenya Dr Fatuma Adan said the framework seeks to ensure that countries have education systems that allow mobility of citizens from one country to another.
“Igad protocol allows people within the eight member states to move across the borders with their services, goods and animals while complying with the regulations of cross border rules and regulations,” she said.
She added that, “if a citizen moves with their animals from one country to another and has a qualification, one should be able to find a job in the other country and teach if one is a teacher and one is a doctor should be able to provide services across borders”.
Dr Adan said the regional framework will also be integrated to the continental framework as guided by the African union.
In implementing the framework, Dr Tsegaye said Igad is not pushing countries to have the same curriculum as each country has its own needs.
“Our effort is to have a regional framework then each country will have its own national curriculum and that will make it easier for countries to accept qualifications from across the region,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania have adopted a regional framework for technical and vocational institutions.
Under the East Africa Skills for Transformation And Regional Integration Project, the countries will harmonise their Tvet curriculum, qualifications and occupational standards in a move meant to expose youth in the region to diverse skills.
The framework will also facilitate mobility by students, and faculty while enabling industrial partnership across the region. Further, it will strengthen the capacity of national agencies responsible for the approval of occupation standards, model curriculum and accreditation of Tvet programmes.
The regional framework seeks to enhance regional collaboration in Tvet through networking, knowledge sharing, and the development of regional public goods to promote the regional integration.