The implementation of the second phase of the African Continental Qualifications Framework (ACQF-II) has begun as part of a grand plan to support the comparability, quality and recognition of qualifications between countries – including higher education qualifications.
Despite progress made since the start of the development process, the framework will require commitment, cooperation and coordination among African countries and regional bodies.
This is emphasized in response to questions by Mary Eglantine Juru, Project Officer, Association of African Universities for Higher Education University World News,
He added that the development and implementation of an African qualifications framework is a complex process and that aligning the different educational systems, standards and practices in African countries “could take years” because it requires sustained commitment from African governments, educational institutions and political support. , requires financial resources and political support regional organizations related to higher education”.
However, the effort will be worth it.
According to Juru, higher education in Africa is an engine to drive socio-economic development and transformation of the continent and an operational qualification framework can play a vital role in unlocking this potential by providing common ground and a way to identify and compare qualifications. Provides a framework for Facilitating the mobility of students and labor to different countries and institutions and, therefore,
Juru said: “A continental qualifications framework would provide a common set of standards and guidelines for qualifications across different African countries. It would facilitate the identification and comparability of qualifications, making it easier for institutions and employers to assess, compare and It will be easy to identify.
“This will translate into a more transparent and consistent system that enhances the mobility of students and labor within Africa and beyond.”
He added that there are also employability and workforce development benefits in the form of a continental qualification framework that will contribute to the alignment of educational programs and labor market needs.
The qualifications framework will also guide higher education institutions in designing curriculum that responds to market needs, therefore improving the employability of graduates and supporting the development of a skilled workforce that meets the demands of the African socio-economic sector. Is.
In addition, the framework will result in international recognition and competitiveness: a continental qualifications framework will increase the visibility of African qualifications and enhance the international recognition and competitiveness of African higher education.
Juru said this could translate into new possibilities for international collaboration, partnerships and research opportunities, ultimately increasing Africa’s participation in the global knowledge economy.
The process to develop the ACQF was initiated by the African Union (AU) in September 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a policy initiative, the AFQF contributes to the development of national and regional qualification frameworks (NQF and RQF).
Some of the objectives of the continental framework are to facilitate the recognition of learning from different contexts, to support the mobility of learners and workers, and to create a common learning and qualification space.
ACQF-II, under a project titled ‘Support for the Implementation of the African Continental Qualifications Framework (ACQF)’, is running from the first 2023 and will end at the end of December 2026. It is based on policy. and the technical base developed by Phase I of the ACQF-I project (2019-22).
The key outcomes envisaged under the latest program cycle are that countries with National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) that are ready for implementation will be invited to use the ACQF as a reference.
Where contextualised, countries may use the ACQF levels for newly issued qualification documents and qualification databases – improving mutual alignment between NQFs.
Other outcomes are to develop common profiles of emerging businesses, green and digital skills and competencies relevant to free trade in Africa; Strengthening capacity at national, regional and continental levels to develop and implement qualification frameworks and systems; and collaborate in developing and implementing the ACQF as well as national qualification frameworks in African countries.
Program coordinator and leading expert, Eduarda Castel-Branco explained University World News The project works closely with the AU Commission’s Division for Education and has an advisory group made up of representatives from AU member states, territories and territories.
“Project ACQF-II is implemented by the European Training Foundation, working closely with the AU Commission and the African Member States and Regional Economic Communities,” she said.
A recent statement announcing the launch of ACQF-II Said The implementation team is comprised of experts in relevant thematic and policy domains, and who are familiar with the relevant characteristics of different African regions and countries.
According to the statement, the team combines expertise in the domains of qualifications and credentials, qualification framework and systems, recognition of prior learning (RPL), governance of NQFs, credit accumulation and transfer systems, quality assurance of qualifications, digital online register and Database of qualifications, Reference between NQFs or RQFs and ACQF, Monitoring and evaluation of NQFs and ACQF, Communication and outreach, Delivery of training and capacity development programs to stakeholders, Website content management and development.
“All the lessons in a lifetime are valuable, [but] Not all learning outcomes are visible from non-formal and informal education.
“RPL’s policies and measures provide a solution to this gap. RPL campaign will support [the] Disseminating information and good practice, developing technical capacity and encouraging countries and territories to promote RPL policies and implementation programmes.
“The campaign links RPL to NQF, and plays the role of RPL [the] To engage in lifelong learning and good work. As NQFs are lifelong learning tools, they support the recognition of skills acquired in non-formal and informal contexts, and an increasing number of NQFs include non-formal and informal learning in their scope,” the statement said. .
This initiative follows the conclusion of ACQF-I, which among others finalized the ACQF policy document.
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an ACQF-I final reports The activities and outcomes say that NQFs in Africa are at various stages of development and implementation.
It said that, during the last three years, there has been an increase in the number of countries starting with the development of the NQF, while others are adopting the policy and legal underpinnings, setting up the governance structures and technical tools to operate the NQF. Are.
The report noted that, so far, the Southern African Development Community has been the region with the largest number of countries to do so and noted that there may be more to go on from the NQF’s initial concepts and plans for adopting policies and instruments. . Challenging and longer in some countries than others.
While, in some contexts, national institutions benefit from enabling conditions such as better qualifications, active social partners and socio-economic demand for technical and financial resources, in other contexts, education and training reforms and implementation of NQF projects are adversely affected Does matter. Maintaining political instability and insecurity, the report added.
“Considering the total of 41 countries included in the data collected by the ACQF mapping study, the continent has a higher number of qualification frameworks (approved, implementation initiated or implementation advanced) than other large regions when they have updated their comprehensive RQFs. was enacted.
“Although 13 years separate the advent of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the development of the ACQF, it is useful to note that, when the EQF’s legal basis was approved (2008), only three countries had NQFs and were operational. (France, Ireland and the United Kingdom),” it said.
What has been achieved so far?
An ACQF mapping study by the African Continental Qualifications Framework provides an insight into what grounds have been covered so far.
acqf mapping reports title is, Towards an African continental qualification framework,
Among RQFs, or regional qualification frameworks, the SADC has been found to be the most advanced in terms of its legal, technical and institutional basis, with the SADC RQF approved since 2011, and reactivated in 2017.
The SADC Technical Committee on Certification and Accreditation emerged as a long-term monitoring body that promoted the SADC RQF.
“The NQFs of two SADC member states have been aligned to the SADC RQFs (South Africa and Seychelles) and alignment is underway in Mauritius,” the study said.
“in ecowas [Economic Community of West African States] In October 2012, education ministers approved guidelines and a roadmap for the implementation of the NQFs and RQFs in the sector in October 2013.
“In EAC [East African Community]The East African Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (EAQFHE) was adopted by ministers in April 2015, working in complementarity with regional quality assurance systems. The EAQFHE has eight levels, ranging from lower primary education to doctoral degrees.
In the EAC, overall coordination for the higher education section of the EAQFHE is with the Inter-University Council for East Africa, or IUCEA, the custodian and governing body delegated by the EAC.
It said that, in terms of governance of the NQF, it found that the more advanced NQFs in Africa are overseen by qualification agencies.