The East African Community (EAC) is looking into adopting a common education protocol to ease movement of learners and teachers within the region.
The education system in the five partner states will be harmonized, comparable, and compatible, thus boosting knowledge and skills development.
Experts behind the plan say the creation of a common EAC Higher Education Area (EACHEA) implies that qualifications will be appropriately recognized in all partner states both for continuation of studies as well as in the labour market.
The executive secretary of the Inter- University Council for East Africa, Prof. Mayunga Nkunya said that the most important development of the plan will be to eliminate the disparity in the national education system.
Prof. Nkunya said that all instruments to enable the EAC to operate as a common protocol where in place and that they were working with the EAC Secretariat to make sure this is achieved.
“And I must say that we are the first region in Africa to have devised this kind of system. Once operational, all these challenges which we are seeing in movement of students from one partner state to another will end.” Nkunya told the New Times paper.
Apart from the policy level guideline, on the ground, practitioners have a handbook with guidelines on how best one should practice quality assurance.
At institutional level, for example, Dr Joseph Cosam, the head of quality assurance at IUCEA, said they are looking at the academic programmes and at particularly what elements should determine whether they acceptable or of desired quality.
The EAC Common Market Protocol permits easy mobility of learners and labour.
Prof. Nkunya said people’s knowledge will be recognised and equated with the qualifications obtained through the formal system and then pegged at a particular level.
This is why, among others, it was deemed necessary to set up a framework to enable mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications across the region.
A regional policy framework for mobility of students and staff is already in place, said Dr Cosam. It provides for a mechanism for a second year student, for example, studying in Rwanda to go and study another semester in Uganda or Kenya or Tanzania or Burundi and then come back and continue with studies in Kigali and go on to graduate.
He further stated that the frame work provides for mobility of lecturers so that, the region continues to share especially since one of the challenges faced is lack of adequate professors in universities.
In the EAQFHE, there are provisions including an East African credit system that incorporates a credit accumulation and transfer structure such that a student can accumulate credits in one institution and transfer them in another institution in any other EAC country.
Besides, instead of considering the number of years a student spends at university, the new guiding parameter will be expected learning outcomes no matter how long it takes a student to acquire knowledge.