West Africa varsities meet on harmonisation of programmes

Pro. Ishaq OloyedeThe Acting Secretary General of the Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU), Prof Ishaq O. Oloyede, has called for close synergy between academicians and politicians in the formulation of education policies.

He said universities must find a way of penetrating the political circles, without being stained, to make meaningful inputs in policy formulation since governments often took decisions without involving policy implementers.

Prof. Oloyede, a former Vice Chancellor of University of Illorin, Nigeria, was addressing participants at the opening of the 2nd Annual Conference and General Meeting of the AWAU at the University of Cape Coast.

The three-day conference is on the theme “Harmonisation of Academic Programmes and Qualifications in Africa (Arusha Convention): the implication for West Africa.”

About 150 participants made up of Vice Chancellors and other academicians from universities in West Africa are attending and the conference is aimed at discussing problems facing university education in the sub region.

Prof. Oloyede said although there was the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), it had issues of interest hence the need for universities in the sub region to network and work to improve university education.

He said despite the population of West Africa, it was the least developed in the continent adding that the unity of universities in the sub region was crucial to rescue it from its current state.

He said one major challenge in the sub region was language complexity and even though science and technology was a major ingredient of development it was not enough without effective communication.

Delivering the keynote address, Prof. Munzeli Jibril, the Vice Chancellor of the Police Academy in Kaduna, Nigeria, said harmonisation of academic programmes and qualification could facilitate the development of the sub region.

The professor, who is also a former  Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission,  said the harmonisation would be easier since most countries in West Africa, already had similar academic systems.

On the adoption of the Bologna Agreement which is aimed at harmonising academic programmes and qualifications in Africa, he said though the system had been successful it would not be advisable to strictly follow it and abolish the diploma system.

He said although some European academic institutions which were using the system were aborting the diploma system, it was important in the training of middle level man power needed for the development of the sub region.

He also urged the universities to allocate more credit hours to students’ personal study instead of lecture hours, adding that this would help churn out highly skilled and innovative graduates needed for the development of the region.

Prof. Domwini D. Kuupole, Chairman of AWAU and Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, said the conference would create the chance for exchange of best practices and foster cooperation and healthy competition among universities. –GNA

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