Investing in education and skills is a key focus of the Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. The Alliance, announced by President Juncker in the 2018 State of the European Union Address, underlines the importance of higher education to build skills and create jobs. Internationalisation and harmonisation of Higher Education in Africa are considered particularly important to boost mobility and to increase the quality of education and comparability.
Higher Education in Africa
Higher education plays a crucial role for economic and social development in catalysing sustainable development by producing high quality human resources and in disseminating the results of scientific and technical research.
Universal access to quality education must be matched with a responsive higher education system responding to African challenges in infrastructure, financing, retention, training and retraining teachers, harmonisation of educational structures, providing appropriate and relevant skills, quality assurance, recognition of qualifications and research capacity.
In addition to specific, traditional capacity building actions, mobility in itself has a strong potential to improve the quality of higher education, by accelerating the use of transparency and recognition tools, and by helping institutions develop better services to send and receive foreign students and researchers.
Through mobility, institutional cooperation is amplified, as the institutions involved build partnerships and networks that can cast a critical eye on the global issues affecting both sides. International cooperation can only build on balanced partnerships and flows of people and ideas; this also ensures that knowledge grows through sharing, and that capacity and excellence are built on both sides.
The Expansion of the African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning pilot initiative (Tuning Africa II) is one of the concrete deliverables of the Higher Education partnership.
In 2019, two initiatives in this field will embark on a further phase of operations:
The Tuning Africa project is a collaborative process reviewing and modernising competences and skills, making curricula and teaching more relevant to the needs of African societies and the labour market. 104 universities from 41 countries are involved in the project, which covers 8 diverse subject areas ranging from agriculture to medicine. As a result, more than 1600 students and staff already participated in online courses and workshops.
Harmonisation and Quality Assurance
The Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation initiative enhances quality assurance in higher education and builds mutual trust, supporting mobility and the recognition of qualifications, thereby contributing to the continental integration agenda.
Under this initiative steered by the European Commission and African Union Commission, the African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ASG-QA) have been published. Based on guidelines and standards in different African countries and global benchmarks, the guidelines aim to facilitate the recognition and mobility of students and staff within and across national borders in Africa and with Europe and are the overarching framework for quality assurance in higher education on the continent.
Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs
State of the Union Address 2018
On 12 September 2018, on the occasion of his State of the Union Address, President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed a new ‘Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs‘ to substantially boost investment in Africa, strengthen trade, create jobs, and invest in education and skills. The package builds on the commitments taken during the African Union – European Union Summit which took place in November last year in Abidjan, where the two continents agreed to strengthen their partnership. It sets out the key strands of action for a stronger economic agenda for the EU and its African partners. The European Commission is thus today setting out a number of ways to address the investment challenges and opportunities in Africa which are detailed in the new Communication adopted on the same day.
Africa does not need charity, it needs true and fair partnership. And we, Europeans need this partnership just as much. Today, we are proposing a new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa. This Alliance – as we envision it – would help create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next 5 years alone. President Jean-Claude Juncker
The Commission’s proposal for an ‘Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs’ is part of a package which also includes a proposal for a more efficient financial architecture for investment outside the European Union, which will also support further investment in Africa. Under President Juncker’s leadership, the EU has been strengthening its partnership with Africa, including with new innovative tools, on top of traditional cooperation instruments, notably the External Investment Plan (EIP).