United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture

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United Republic of Tanzania


















Burkina Faso












Equatorial Guinea






Cote d’Ivoire








Holy See 1998
P.S. Cameroun ratified the Convention in 1995, but has not yet deposited the instrument of its ratification with the Director General of UNESCO. By virtue of article 17, it has not yet become a Member State to the Convention.
Some national case studies on the implementation of the Arusha Convention as well as on issues concerning higher education providers, quality assurance and GATS will now be presented.

Algeria has ratified three regional conventions dealing with internationalization of higher education. These are the Convention for the recognition of degrees, and diplomas concerning Mediterranean countries in 1984, the Convention involving Arab countries in 1984 and the Arusha Convention for African countries in 1985. It has also signed several bilateral conventions on the recognition of degrees and certificates and diplomas.
At the level of the higher education and the “Baccalaureat” (Advanced Level G.C.E. or Higher School Certificate) certificates of other nationals are automatically recognised so the holders can enroll at the university under the same conditions as those applicable to Algerian nationals. Beginning from the 1970s, the Commission Nationale d’Equivalence (CNE) established in the 1970s became the sole body empowered to establish certificate equivalence ratings and authorize recognition of foreign diplomas, certificates and degrees in relation to those awarded locally, in addition to establishing the procedures and rules governing decisions to be taken by the expert evaluators.
Considering the increasing number of applications for equivalence and to render the system more efficient, certain measures were taken beginning from 1982, following the organisation of a national seminar. These were:

  • Generalising the automatic equivalence rating to cover all undergraduate and graduate degrees.

  • Formulating several provisions of general scope and an order setting a minimum standard of equivalence for certain foreign certificates, degrees and other qualifications to resolve administrative problems, with particular regard to holders of Ph.D and other doctoral qualifications from countries of the East.

  • In the case of equivalence with the national post-graduate degrees, the certificate of equivalence resolved until 1989, two types of questions at two different levels. On the one hand, it recognised knowledge and higher education acquired abroad in university systems which were very different from the national system. On the other hand, it paved the way for certain functions in the civil service, particularly in the Higher Education system.

Since 1989, these two levels have been managed by two distinct and sovereign authorities, i.e. the Commission Nationale d’Equvalence (CNE) which deals with matters concerning certificate equivalence and the Commission Nationale Universitaire which deals with issues related to promotion and access to high positions in higher education.

Sudan ratified the Arusha Convention in 1983. In implementing the provisions of the Convention, it recognises certificates; diploma and other academic qualifications awarded by African institutions of higher education. The country also offers the same chances for work to their holders as to those graduating from similar Sudanese institutions.
One of the most qualitative developments affecting studies in higher education is the establishment of specialised committees in the National Council for Higher Education and Scientific Research which takes responsibility for evaluating certificates.

These specialised committees are:

  • The Committee for Agricultural, Veterinary Science, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies.

  • The Committee for Engineering and Technology Studies.

  • The Committee for Medical and Health Sciences

  • The Committee for Educations and Social Studies

  • The Committee for Humanities

  • The Committee for Basic Sciences

The Committees have laid down criteria for evaluation and equivalence of foreign certificates with those awarded in Sudan, according to international criteria and changes in higher education systems and curricula.

In addition, the Committee considers information from the regional and international conventions signed by Sudan or specific bodies such as:

  • The Arusha Convention

  • The Convention on Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in Arab States.

  • Institutions of Higher Education (Senates in Universities and Academic Boards in other institutions of Higher Education).

  • Sudan Medical Council

  • Sudan Engineering Council.

The main obstacles encountered in the Application of the Arusha convention are:

  • The problem of communication between African States making it difficult to obtain major information and documents about higher education systems in African States.

  • Problems concerning the translation of some languages used by African States.

  • The different systems applied in higher education and the different criteria for certificate evaluation and equivalence among African States.

  • Sudanese students have little chance for learning in African States compared to the places offered by Sudan to African students from other countries.

(Prepared by G.C. Njine, Commission For Higher Education, Nairobi, Kenya)
In recent years Kenya has seen a tremendous growth in the number and types of institutions providing higher education. In order for organizations and individuals to remain competitive in a rapidly changing environment, demand for education and training has become more critical than before. To respond to this demand, new institutions have continued to emerge.
Kenya does not have foreign university campuses as the law governing higher education does not provide for it. However there is a bill awaiting enactment by parliament providing for this. A number of institutions are expected to be registered under the new law.
Kenya has over 50 IT academies. These range from simple outfits offering little more than basic skills in computer literacy to institutions offering sophisticated IT courses at the Diploma and Higher Diploma levels. The advanced courses are usually programmes of foreign institutions administered by Kenyan academies. Examples of such academies are Info Tech, Compuera, College of Advanced Technology.
Some Institutions in Kenya have twinning arrangements with foreign universities. The arrangement allow Kenyan institutions to offer programmes of the foreign universities. An example is Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology which administers IT master's programmes of the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom. The Kenya College of Communication Technology offers degrees of the University of Free State in South Africa, while Kenya Medical Training College offers degrees of the University of Dundee in Scotland and Curtin University of Technology in Australia.
The United States International University was established by a University in USA by the same name. It is a sense a subsidiary of a corporate body in USA. However the process of establishing the university was identical to that of establishing other private universities in Kenya. The private universities are established through the award of a Charter by the President after accreditation by the Commission for Higher Education.
Most of the non-university providers are for profit. They provide education at the Certificates, Diploma and Higher Diploma Levels. Examples are Kenya School of Professional Studies, Nairobi Institute of Technology, Augustana College. A number of Private companies have colleges for training their own staff. These include D.T Dobie, Barclays Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank. Some professional bodies have established their own colleges. Examples are the College of Insurance and the Kenya College of Accountancy. A few of the new and proposed private universities are for profit. They include Kiriri Women's University of Science and Technology and the Proposed Gretsa University.
Kenyatta University and Egerton University are hosts to the African Virtual University. Programmes of the Virtual University are beamed to the Kenyan Universities from Western Universities. Though hosted by the Universities, the Virtual University is independent and transnational. It provides interactive sessions through the use of Information Technology.
Besides the Virtue University, there are many other distance education providers. These either operate directly or through local agents who have varying degrees of responsibility from merely registering students to organizing teaching of the programs. An example of the latter is the University of South Africa which co-operates with the Kenya College of Accountancy. Other providers include the University of London, which co-operates with the Kenya School of Professional Studies. Others are: Cambridge International College, the Indian Management Training Institute, the International Correspondence University and New Port University.
The non-university providers are required to be registered with the Department Technical Training under the Ministry of Education Science and Technology after an initial inspection. However they do not undergo a formal accreditation process. This will be provided by the Commission for Higher Education when the new Bill is passed by Parliament.
A number of new providers are associated with the public universities and are offering programmes at Degree, Certificate or Diploma Level which are awarded by the universities. Such providers include Kianda College, Kenya College of Accountancy and Kenya School of Professional Studies.
Other providers are actively involved in discussions with the Commission for Higher Education with a view to receiving accreditation status. However the current law allows only for the accreditation of those that wish to attain university status. Registered providers are allowed to offer examinations set and marked by a Government organ the Kenya National Examinations Council.
The Commission for Higher Education is in the process of producing a Directory of Post-Secondary Training Institutions, the majority of which qualify as new providers. To date information has been obtained on nearly 500 institutions. It is expected that the final tally will be much higher. The information can be obtained from the Commission for Higher Education.

The new providers have resulted into a major challenge to regulatory bodies in Kenya.

On the positive side, they are seen to be filling a vacuum created by the Government's inability to provide training opportunities for all those who are qualified and have the desire to continue with their education and training.
Secondly, the new providers are more flexible in their curriculum development and therefore are able to respond faster to the needs of industry. Most of the providers are in the areas of computer studies and hotel and tourism which are growth industries in Kenya. There is only one public institution - Utalii College - devoted to Hotel & Tourism Studies, while there are more than 100 private providers.
Thirdly, they are more economical in their use of resources. A single computer for example may be used by 4 or 5 people per day. For these reasons the Government appreciates the new providers.
On the other hand the Government's supervisory capacity is overstretched and cannot possibly supervise all these institutions. The legal requirement that all certification be awarded by either the universities or recognized examining bodies like the Kenya National Examinations Council is flouted with impunity. Many of the institutions give certificates and diplomas after only a few weeks of training. The profit motive seems to dominate among the news providers. One of the consequences is to minimize cost by employing poorly qualified lowly paid staff and to provide a minimum of other academic resources. This, together with lack of supervision results in deplorably low standards in most of them.
The regulatory framework for providers falls into six broad categories. These are:

  • The Commission for Higher Education

  • The Ministry of Education Science and Technology

  • Line ministries

  • The Registrar of Companies

  • Professional bodies

  • Public and Accredited Universities

The Commission for Higher Education is the regulating body for all providers at the university level. All private providers at university level apply to the Commission for a Letter of Interim Authority. The application must be accompanied with a proposal outlining among other things the resources that are available or are likely to be available for launching the university.

After an inspection or series of inspections to confirm that these resources are available the commission may grant the Letter of Interim Authority. This letter among other things allows the providers to start or continue assembling resources, to advertise programmes and to admit students. Full accreditation may be given several years later if the commission is satisfied that the new university is in a position to give high quality education. It is signified by the award of a Charter.

The Ministry of Education Science and Technology is charged with the responsibility of promoting education in the country. One of the departments in the Ministry is the Directory of Technical Training which previously used to be a full Ministry in its own right. This department has the responsibility of promoting technical education. This includes technical subjects as well as business education subjects.

The department has an inspectorate arm that inspects new institutions before they are registered. It can only register institutions that intend to give qualifications other than Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates.
All registered institutions are expected to offer curriculum leading to award Certificates or Diplomas awarded by the Kenya National Examinations Council, the Kenya Accountants & Secretaries Examining Board or the Directory of Industrial Training. The Kenya Institute of Education develops the curriculum examined by the Kenya National Examinations Council. However a large number of institutions develop their own curricula and award Diplomas and Certificates without legal authority. The law provides that authority to award own qualifications be granted by the Minister through gazetting in the Kenya gazette.
A number of Government Ministries have established their own institutions and are also expected to supervise any private institutions in their line. For example the Ministry of Health has a Medical Training College with more than 20 branches throughout the country for the training of Medical Personnel. The Ministry also has to approve any programmes for the training of Medical Personnel by any other providers.
Some providers have found it easier to get by, through registering their institutions with the registrar of companies. While this gives the institution legal status, it does not make any provision for supervision accreditation or quality control. This route is discouraged and often the proprietors disguise their institutions as private businesses.
Professional bodies are involved in approving curriculum offered or taken by prospective members of their profession. The Engineering Council of Kenya for example has to approve the curriculum taken by prospective engineers. The Council on Legal Education has to approve the curriculum taken by prospective lawyers. Public and accredited universities have responsibility under the general direction of the Commission for Higher Education to ensure the quality of the institutions offering their programmes.
There are a number of policy implications for the new providers. These include the Legal framework; Quality control and assurance;. Relevance; and Equity. Transnational providers are protected by the Investment Protection Act. This Act protects them from expropriation of their property by the state and allows them to repatriate profits and even capital. This Act may conflict with the universities Act which recognizes universities as corporate bodies with perpetual succession. It does not envision a university closing down because its owner has repatriated the capital.
A number of providers wishes to retain accreditation in their home countries. At the same time they are required to obtain accreditation by the Commission for Higher Education. For example the United States International University is accredited both in Kenya and USA. This could easily lead to conflicts when the standards of accreditation and quality control are different. In addition the Distance Education mode of provision will require different rules and standards from the rules and standards for the traditional modes. Policy decisions and great effort have to be made to ensure that the standards are comparable to those of residential programmes.
Regulating authorities in Kenya expect education offered in the country to be relevant to the country's needs. Some of the new providers are however expected by their parent institutions to offer a curriculum identical to that offered at home which in some cases may not be relevant to Kenya's needs.
The cost of education by the new providers is quite high. Only the upper and middle classes can afford-it. The children of the poor therefore do not benefit from this initiative. Yet these providers benefit from public resources like roads and piped water.
The concept of trade in Higher Education is beginning to appear in Kenya in many forms and at different levels. At the regional level, the East African countries through the Inter-Universities Council of East Africa are encouraging students to obtain their education across the borders of their countries. The East African students have been promised preferential terms of payment of fees from students from other regions.
A few Kenyan universities, for example Kenyatta University, are marketing their services outside the East African region especially countries in Southern Africa. On the import side, Kenya is receiving educational services from many countries especially Britain, USA, India, Canada and Australia. These come mainly in the following forms:
Kenyan students studying abroad: There are an estimated 20,000 Kenyan students studying in foreign countries. These are expected to cost the country an estimated Kshs.16 billion (US $ 200,000,000) annually.
Foreign countries establishing their programmes in Kenya: Since Kenyan laws as yet do not have a provision for foreign campuses, most foreign universities have established their programmes in collaboration with local institutions. They have memorandums of understanding allowing them to take part of the fees.
Distance Education Programmes: Many foreign institutions administer their distance education programmes in the country sometimes directly and sometimes with the assistance of a local agent.
Higher Education, adult education, and other tertiary education & training are regarded as trade and a number of agreements between countries have been signed in order to regulate the trade. These include agreements on the recognition of academic qualifications obtained in each other's countries and agreements on the regulations governing students going abroad for studies. Some countries with which agreements have been signed are Britain, India and China. These agreements are spearheaded by the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs. Higher Education has also featured in discussions in the context of GATS and WTO agreements.
In recognition of the importance of this trade, the universities Act is being amended in order to make it easier for foreign providers and other new providers to operate in Kenya.
Discussions have been held between relevant Government ministries articulating Kenyan's needs in the context of GATS and WTO agreements. Kenya has already made requests through its mission in Geneva to be allowed to export educational services to a number of countries including Mozambique, Botswana, Rwanda, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, UK and Eritrea. This would include allowing Kenyans to establish educational services in partnership with nationals of those countries and allowing Kenyan teachers to teach in those countries.
The Commission for Higher Education is the sole accrediting body for Higher Education in Kenya. However the Commission only deals with degree programmes offered by universities. Currently it is concentrating on accrediting private universities.
An accredited institution has the authority to award its own Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates. Students from such institutions have access to loans from the Higher Education Loans Board. The Commission for Higher Education regularly publishes the names of accredited institutions, those with letters of Interim Authority and those that are registered. A letter of Interim Authority is a sort of provisional accreditation to allow an institution to assemble resources and improve the quality of its offerings. Institutions with letters of registration are those that existed before the Commission was established in 1985. Five of them have already progressed to the stage of being awarded Charters.
Non-university institutions do not receive formal accreditation. However public institution and a large number of private institutions teach curriculum that is developed by a professional public organ, the Kenya Institute of Education. They receive prior inspection before they are registered. The Ministry of Education is expected to inspect them from time to time but it lacks the capacity to do so.
When the new bill is passed into law, it is expected that all higher education institutions including middle level, transnational, for profit, private and electronic will be accredited by the Commission. However it is expected that there will be different rules for electronic and other distance education programmes from those of residential programmes.
While new providers of higher education have done a commendable job in responding to the needs of organizations and individuals, coordination efforts made by regulatory bodies need to be strengthened through an international framework.

There is need for an international framework to provide for the following:

  • General guidance on curriculum standards for the new providers;

  • Ethical principles for the new providers;

  • General guidance on quality control and quality assurance mechanism for the new providers;

  • International obligations of states with regard to the new providers;

  • International responsibilities of states with regard to foreign students.

These guidelines should be harmonized with the provisions of the convention on the recognition of studies, degrees, diplomas, certificates and other Awards in the African Region and any bilateral agreements between nations.

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