Description of African education as low in academics unfair – Prof Yankah

Christopher Arko, GNA

Accra, Aug.10, GNA – Professor Kwesi Yankah,
the Minister of State in-Charge of Tertiary Education, has described as unfair
the perception of the western countries that the academic standards of higher
education in Africa are low.

He said this suspicion weakened the
competitiveness of Africa’s higher educational institutions internally and

Prof Yankah was speaking at the ongoing
conference for the Joint Committees on Education, Science and Technology, and
the Committee on Information Technology of the ECOWAS Parliament in Accra.

The five-day conference is on the theme: “The
Status of Harmonisation of Educational Systems and Curricular in West Africa:
With Special Reference on Equivalence of Degrees, Diploma, Certificates and
other qualifications.”

Prof Yankah said a recent Webomatrix
publication about the rating of world universities showed that no African
university fell within the best 300 universities in the world.

He said even the top five universities in
Africa fell in the best 1000 universities of the world, with all of them being
in South Africa.

He explained that the highest ranked
university in Africa placed 317th and the one which ranked 100th
in Africa, ranked 11,591st in the world.

Prof Yankah also indicated that the
geographical distribution of universities in the top, middle, and bottom
brackets showed a considerable inequality between universities in Africa and
the rest of the world.

He said within Africa itself there was a sharp
divide in perceived standards between universities in South Africa and Northern
Africa on one hand, and those in typical sub-Saharan Africa, adding that the
latter are poorly perceived and placed in terms of infrastructure, human
resources, and academic output.

He said the perception of low academic
standards in Africa slowed down academic migration from South to North, and put
African scholars and students under unnecessary suspicion when credentials were
presented elsewhere.

“It largely takes the intervention of credible
accreditation boards on the continent, explaining degree and grade equivalences
across borders, to reassure universities elsewhere of the validity of grades
and degrees from Africa” he said.              

Prof Yankah said there was the need to
harmonise the educational standards in the sub-region to ensure transparency in
curriculum development including teaching and learning, the duration of
courses, credit accumulation and recognition of experiential learning.

He, however, noted that the foremost
challenges facing higher education in West Africa include gender and cultural
disparities, the mismatch between skills and industry requirements, diverse
admission criteria, poor recognition of African qualifications externally and
the absence of credit transfer arrangements (locally, regionally and

Mr Anthony Kofitse, an Executive Director at
WAEC, giving an overview of the “Experience of Anglophone Countries on
Harmonisation in School Curricular” said WAEC was established in 1952 to
contribute to education in Anglophone countries in West Africa including
Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Gambia.

He said the Council, to a large extent, had
been to harmonise the educational standards of member states and that a good
WAEC results from any of the Anglophone countries could allow a person to gain
admission into a university in those countries.

He said some of the challenges coming out of
the new reforms undertaken by the Council were that each member country now
created its own curricular and called on the institutions to add the continuous
assessment to a candidate’s total score to grade him.


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