Lesotho and Namibia to jointly promote HE quality

The national higher education councils of Lesotho and Namibia have signed an agreement to share expertise in regulating and promoting quality in their countries' universities, and to collaborate on professional development and research.

The memorandum of understanding was signed in Lesotho’s capital Maseru on 27 February, between the Lesotho Council on Higher Education (CHE) and Namibia’s National Council for Higher Education (NCHE).

“By sharing information and engaging in joint professional development activities and research, the two regulatory bodies should make it easy for students and people to move from one institute to another and cross borders without worrying about the quality of qualifications,” said Makabelo Mosothoane, Lesotho’s minister of education and training.

Lesotho’s CHE was established through the Education Act of 2004, but the first council was appointed in 2008. Its job is to accredit academic programmes, register private institutions, and audit and monitor the performance of higher education institutions.

Mosothoane said minimum programme accreditation standards and guidelines for registration of private institutions were approved by the council in April 2012, and are now awaiting legislation. A new policy on higher education was approved last September, and is also awaiting official approval.

The CHE started informally collaborating with the Namibian council in 2011, and Mosothoane hoped that formal cooperation would aid the implementation of these instruments. Lesotho is preparing to start accrediting higher education programmes in October 2013.

CHE Chief Executive Makotelo Teboho Motseko said the agreement with Namibia would help to achieve the objectives of the Southern African Development Community, which urged member states to work towards harmonisation of education and training.

Mocks Shivute, executive director of the NCHE, said collaborative efforts at national, regional and international levels were required to raise the quality of education systems.

He said countries had to deal with problems of limited access, lack of innovation, lack of information and communication technology, a mismatch between the demand for and supply of skills, poor coordination at all levels, the absence of policy frameworks on tuition fees, and non-existent functional higher education management information systems.

“It is no longer an option to develop higher education in isolation. Cross-border mobility demands the development of standards and benchmarks that cut across boundaries,” said Shivute.

He hoped the agreement would provide space for mutual sharing of best practices in quality assurance.

The memorandum states that:
  • • The two councils will carry out joint capacity-building initiatives for staff members, including in information gathering and development activities.
  • • Senior staff will be offered opportunities to observe institutional audits, programme accreditation or other evaluation activities.
  • • The agencies will exchange information about experiences of students studying in each other’s country.
The agreement provides a platform for the NCHE and CHE to formally share information on the outcomes of quality assurance activities, for example, national reviews and institutional quality enhancement processes in their countries.

Links will also be established between their websites.