Major bodies partner to raise higher education quality

The African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education or CAMES – the body responsible for accreditation in Africa’s French-speaking countries – has signed a partnership agreement with UNESCO to promote higher education quality across the continent.

Professor Bertrand Mbatchi, secretary-general of CAMES, said the agreement launched in Burkina Faso last month will see joint deployment of CAMES and UNESCO’s achievements in higher education through analysis, advocacy and capacity building in quality assurance.

The cooperation, signed by Mbatchi and UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education Qian Tang, will run from 2016 to 2017, with a possibility of extension.

“In the context of massification of higher education, it is important to vet the quality of higher education through mechanisms and a culture of quality assurance that need to be integrated into the day-to-day operations of higher education systems, institutions and programmes,” Mbatchi told University World News.

Quality assurance, he said, refers to an ongoing, continuous process of evaluating – assessing, monitoring, guaranteeing, maintaining and improving – the quality of higher education provided.

“Developing a culture of quality requires strong, committed stewardship from local, global and regional leaders in higher education, as quality assurance can only be effective when all stakeholders understand and embrace its challenges and benefits,” Mbatchi added.


CAMES, which was established in 1968, is a regional body responsible for higher education accreditation and quality assurance, and for the implementation of higher education and research policies in several Francophone African countries.

Its 19 members are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Chad, Senegal and Togo.

Mbatchi said the focus would be on developing and promoting good practice in enhancing and maintaining higher education quality assurance and qualification frameworks, a quality culture and fostering collaboration among national quality assurance bodies in the CAMES region and with those in other parts of Africa and the world.

Under the partnership, there will be training to help raise standards within universities and to share expertise externally. Higher education personnel will be trained, and curricula will be revamped.

The partnership will also look into employability and the professional preparation of graduate students, and optimising the use of information and communication technologies in higher education.

Mbatchi said UNESCO and its partners will contribute US$1.5 million to five CAMES countries to support these activities. Some contributions may also come from regional economic communities.