Launch of the African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning initiative
At a double meeting last week in Dakar (28-30 November 2011), Senegal, the European Commission, the African Union Commission, the Association of African Universities, the regional associations responsible for higher education, representatives from Ministries and agencies launched the African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning initiative in Africa. Sixty universities across the continent will participate in five subject groups.
Tuning is a widely tested methodology for tuning educational structures - not systems - internationally. It was first developed in the framework of the European Union's Erasmus programme a decade ago. Experiences from the project were instrumental in the development of the European Higher Education Area. The Tuning approach stands out by not being invasive - it does not require universities to harmonise entire curricula but obliges them to find a common language, not only among each other but also with their surrounding community. This forces a critical review of a plethora of issues that are taken for granted in many traditional university settings, such as required generic and subject-specific competences, credit accumulation and transfer, approaches to learning, teaching and assessment, and the role of quality enhancement in the educational process.
A feasibility study presented in Nairobi in March this year concluded that a Tuning approach adapted by and for African higher education could also be relevant to the current harmonisation strategy in Africa. Five subject groups have been identified, which will each focus on one region and in one area. Each group will have 12 participating universities. The majority of these will be from the same region, while each project must include at least one university from every other region, as well as one university that engages in distance learning. The five subjects and their focal regions are: medicine (North Africa), agriculture (Southern Africa), mechanical engineering (Central Africa), teacher education (West Africa) and construction engineering (East Africa).
The two most critical issues for Tuning in Africa will probably be time and ownership. But things are moving fast. In Dakar, Tuning experts from Europe and subject experts from Africa joined forces to evaluate the 96 applications from 27 countries and identify participants in each of the five subject groups. The final selection of participating universities will be published within the next two weeks. The first meeting gathering representatives from the participating universities will take place in Yaoundé in January.
For more information, please see Ard Jongsma's full article reporting on the Conference in University World News:
- The report
- List of participants
- Progress on development or harmonization of Quality Assurance systems, Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (CATS) and the East African Qualifications Framework (EAQF) [EN]
- Yohannes Woldentensae
- Prof. Jegede - Plenary
- Julia Gonzalez - Plenary
- Julia Gonzalez - Olusola Oyewole
- Beatrice Delpouve 29-11
- Benedict Mtasiwa
- John Reilly
- Beatrice Delpouve 30-11
- Shirley Steenekamp - plenary
- Axel Aerden - plenary