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ECOWAS experts examine Certificates Equivalence for the Region

From 28 to 30 July 2015, the Ivorian city of Grand-Bassam will host an important workshop to be attended by some forty experts in higher education and accreditation management with a view to taking a further step towards the bilateral and multilateral recognition of certificates and their equivalence.

The overall objective of the meeting is to use the feasibility study on equivalence of certificates conducted in 2010 to define benchmarks/criteria for the establishment of degrees, diplomas, certificates and other academic qualifications in the ECOWAS region.

In this respect, ECOWAS seeks to achieve a number of specific objectives, the first being to develop regional criteria for the harmonisation of pre-university qualifications, in particular the period of study, content of curricula, qualification assessment and other prerequisites for the establishment of equivalence of Member States’ accreditation systems.

This will involve defining benchmarks/criteria to match university and professional qualifications in the region, draw up a list of courses in Member States’ universities as well as admission requirements, number of years of study, required credits and certificates.

Other specific objectives will be to clarify the classification of academic qualifications (certificate, diploma, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, etc.) in Member States and develop a roadmap for the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on equivalence of certificates.

It is important to note that at continental level, advocacy actions will be carried out to ensure the ratification of the ECOWAS and Arusha Conventions on equivalence of certificates.

Following the Grand-Bassam meeting, it is expected that benchmarks/criteria for the harmonisation of admission requirements into various levels of education will be defined, in particular credit transfer and recognition of equivalence of certificates at regional level.

Bilateral and multilateral recognition of certificates and their equivalence is a priority in a Community such as ECOWAS where all citizens are expected to benefit fully from free movement as well as right of residence and establishment outside their countries of origin.

To enable ECOWAS attain this objective, the Convention on recognition and equivalence of degrees, diplomas, certificates and other qualifications in Member States was adopted by the Authority of Heads of State and Government in January 2013 in Dakar, Senegal.

The convention was adopted as an annex to the protocol on education and training to enable the region’s citizens derive greater benefits from education in the ECOWAS region.

Key objectives of the regional convention are promoting sub-regional cooperation between ECOWAS Member States in the assessment and recognition of certificates, achieving greater collobaration between the people and fostering cooperation in the use of human resources.

The other objectives of the convention are to facilitate skills exchange, further studies and implement protocols on education, training and other sectors within the Community as well as achieve greater cooperation in the use of human resources to promote an all-round development and reduce brain drain.

Before the Grand-Bassam workshop, many meetings were held and many initiatives undertaken, including that of the ad hoc committee comprising five ECOWAS Member States (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal) as well as ex-officio members and strategic partners held in 2005, with a view to providing the necessary guidelines for the implementation of the Convention.

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