In opening address of 2021 Annual Convening, Director of Research and Academic Planning of the Association of African Universities, Professor Jonathan Mba, highlights the role of the Education Collaborative in contributing towards meeting goals for education on the African continent.

Dear Participants

I stand on the existing protocol to greet you and add my voice in welcoming you all to this important event.

It gives me great pleasure to share a few remarks during the occasion of the 2021 Ashesi University annual Education Collaborative Event and highlight how the Education Collaborative’s work and approach amplify the broader transformation agenda for education on the African continent.

At the Association of African Universities where I work, Ashesi University is one of our valued members and we are proud of how the Education Collaborative’s approach is helping to advance the continent-wide growth strategy for African higher education.

You will all agree with me that collaboration and sharing are crucial towards advancing the higher education sector. Through collaboration and sharing our continent will be able to address and solve some of our pressing challenges related to Employability, Entrepreneurship, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

The Mission of AAU is: To enhance the quality and relevance of higher education in Africa and strengthen its contribution to Africa’s developmental aspirations by:

  • Supporting the core functions of higher education institutions (HEIs);
  • Facilitating and fostering collaboration of African HEIs; and
  • Providing a platform for discussions on emerging issues

Since its inception in 1967, the AAU has pursued this constitutional mandate with vigour and can boast of collaborating with key international higher education players for the benefit of the African higher education community. It is worthy of note that AAU is currently collaborating with Global OBREAL of Spain, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) to implement the Harmonization of African Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Initiative, a project funded by European Commission in collaboration with African Union Commission within the context of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership. This initiative seeks to improve the quality and harmonisation of African higher education and support students’ employability and mobility across the continent.

Furthermore, AAU is currently collaborating with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) to execute a project of the Science Granting Councils Initiative funded by IDRC (International Development Research Centre) of Canada called Research Management, whose goal is to fortify the capability of Science Granting Councils in explicit areas of research management, namely research excellence, research ethics, emerging scientific practices (especially open data, open access and citizen science) and development of online grant management systems.

Finally, AAU is currently collaborating with Education sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA), Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) to implement a project called Addressing Faculty Challenges in the East African Community, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The Education Collaborative work is clearly aligned to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 Vision and particularly the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25). The CESA Higher Education Cluster hosted by the Association of African Universities is concerned with harmonizing education and training systems because they are essential for the realization of intra-Africa mobility and academic integration through regional cooperation; as well as for quality and relevant education and research.  

I am pleased to note that the work of the Education Collaborative is undoubtedly linking to the several objectives of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa:

The Education Collaborative is developing diverse, equal, and inclusive higher education institutions through policies. Thus, addressing CESA objective 5 dealing with gender parity and equity in access.

The Education Collaborative concentrates on supporting higher education to train students with relevant career readiness and build entrepreneurship ecosystems. This supports CESA’s objective 8 to establish and strengthen Labor Market Information Systems.

The Education Collaborative is building exemplary institutions through a mentorship program, communities of practice, and a regional hub model. This clearly aligns with the CESA objective 9 concerned with revitalizing and expanding tertiary education by enhancing institutional linkages in the continent. It also complements the work being done by the AAU in the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) project. It may interest you to note that a key requirement of the current World Bank-funded ACE Impact Project is that participating institutions must collaborate with other institutions both within and outside their countries in order to promote academic mobility, research collaboration and regional integration. So, all the 53 Centres of Excellence in West and Central Africa, and 24 centres of excellence in Southern and East Africa are all collaborating with institutions within and outside Africa.

The Education Collaborative is building the first African higher education ranking system to track the sector’s contribution towards social-economic development of the continent; aligning institutions’ systems to foster accountability and sustainability of operations. This initiative contributes to CESA’s objective 11 whose goal is to enhance capacity for data collection, management, and use. It also complements the African Quality Rating Mechanism led by the AAU to facilitate quality benchmarking of African Higher Education Institutions.

The Education Collaborative is creating a value-based society through ethics and leadership development projects. This is an additional focus that is critical to the continent’s growth – and complements the AAU’s longstanding leadership and management development training programs for African Higher Education Institutions.

In closing, I congratulate Ashesi University on hosting the 2021 Education Collaborative Event. I wish all the participants a successful event as we work to drive high-impact educational innovations to catalyze Africa’s transformation.

Thank you for your attention.