Lome, 20 December 2018. The meeting of experts along with rectors and vice chancellors of universities, on the recognition and equivalence of degrees within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ended on Wednesday 19 December 2018 in Lome Togo. The meeting issued recommendations for the attention of ECOWAS Commission, Community Parliament, Member States of the regional organisation as well as strategic partners.
To the Commission, the recommendation was on promoting the internalisation of education within the ECOWAS space to enhance the competitiveness and overall ranking of universities.
There was also a recommendation on fast-tracking the launch and continued implementation of the recognition and equivalence of certificates in West Africa.
Moreover, the Commission is expected to make the most of leading establishments within the West African Community, notably the African and Madagascar Council for Higher Education (CAMES) and national agencies, including but not limited to those in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal.
A further recommendation was made on expediting the creation of a regional accreditation and quality assurance agency to coordinate the evaluation of degrees and accreditation of academic establishments and programmes within the Community.
In addition, the meeting participants suggested that the Commission should provide the financial resources and manpower to implement the ECOWAS roadmap for the recognition and equivalence of degrees in West Africa.
While the recommendation to ECOWAS Parliament was on encouraging Member States to ratify the ECOWAS and Addis conventions on the recognition and equivalence of degrees, ECOWAS Member States were called upon to create national accreditation agencies that will guarantee effective implementation of all aspects relating to the recognition and equivalence of degrees.
Member States that were yet to ratify relevant instruments on the recognition and equivalence of degrees, notably the Addis and ECOWAS conventions, were requested to do so.
Participants also urged Member States to endeavour to regularly publish the list of accredited/ downgraded and non-accredited institutions of higher learning.
Member States were equally called upon to maintain the credibility of the accreditation agencies concerned and provide funding for the national agencies and related organs to carry out the task of collection, analysis and classification of relevant information.
Besides, the strategic partners are expected to engage in advocacy for the effective implementation of relevant instruments on the recognition and equivalence of degrees within the Community, on the one hand, and provide funds for implementing the ECOWAS road map on the recognition and equivalence of degrees, on the other hand.
At the close of the meeting, the Chair of the National Committee on the Recognition of Qualifications in Togo, Prof. Koffi Jondo on behalf of the Togolese Minister for Higher Education and Research, congratulated participants for the quality presentations and discussions as well as the relevant recommendations made.
In turn, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Culture of the ECOWAS Commission, represented by the Director of Education, Prof Abdoulaye Issaka Maga, expressed the conviction that the academic development of ECOWAS Member States could not be achieved in isolation.
“Only unifying and inclusive programmes would make the development of ECOWAS a reality. We must continue to rub minds, back down whenever the need arises; see not just the separate states that exist but rather one unified bloc that is West Africa; knowing that beyond West Africa we are moving towards harmonisation at continental and global levels”, he stated.