More than 300,000 students are studying in Ghana, with 10,398 of them being international students, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a Deputy Minister of Education, has said.
He said at the continental level, Sub-Saharan Africa's higher education sector had expanded massively over the past two decades; with student enrolments across all levels growing from about 200,000 some 40 years ago to an estimated 10 million today.
Mr Ablakwa announced this, in Accra, at a two-day international symposium for Harmonisation Initiative and Third General Meeting of the Turning Joint Africa-European Union (EU) Strategy in Higher Education.
The two-day conference, which brought together 130 participants, was organised by the University of Ghana in collaboration with the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the Association of African Universities (AAU), under the auspices of the EU.
The African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning Pilot initiative has been instrumental in addressing key areas of skills and competences for employability and transparency of curriculum, the development of a common academic credit currency, teaching, learning and assessment related to the achievement of learning outcomes, skills and competences, quality assurance and enhancement.
He said Ghana, like most African countries, was at the stage of processing from low productivity agricultural economies to industrialised economies with focus on manufacturing and services; therefore a strong focus on human capital development was needed.
“We need highly skilled technicians, engineers, health workers, agricultural scientists and researchers; particularly in the rapidly growing sectors of extractive industries, energy, water, environment and infrastructure,” he said.
He said Africa needed to produce future leaders who would promote better governance and management in all sectors, and facilitate innovative solutions to society’s problems. Mr Ablakwa said harmonisation when fully achieved, would among several benefits, offer adequate instruments to help institutions of higher education assess and understand their performances through meaningful comparisons among universities in a given country and among similar institutions across countries at the same stage of development.
He noted that Ghana, like many other countries, was working to develop a standardised national qualification framework in line with best practices across the world. “A uniform qualification framework is required to facilitate qualifications transfer across Africa,” he said.
Professor S. Kwame Offei, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana (UG), called for better ways of educating and equipping Africa’s future leaders in order to safeguard the continent's socioeconomic development. Mr William Hanna, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, said the EU was supporting the development of the Pan-African Framework for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in the next three years.
“We know that higher education requires a solid framework, which builds on institutional, national and regional specificities and at the same time provides a common language and understanding of each other's systems to build up mutual trust and transparency," he said.
Dr Beatrice Njenga, the Head of Education Division, AUC, said the Division sought to contribute towards revitalised, quality, relevant, and harmonised education systems responsive to the needs of Africa, taking into account Africa’s aspiration and capacity in terms of human and material resources.