Close to 100 academic experts are meeting in Kigali to discuss how they can increase the number of qualified senior university lecturers that should meet demands for the ever expanding postgraduate and mentorship programmes.
This dilema, according to the experts, has consequently had a negative impact on the universities’ capacity to sustainably educate the next generation of university lecturers and researchers.
The three-day regional meeting, to be officiated over by Education Minister Dr. Eugene Mutimura, has attracted deans and directors of graduate schools from private and public universities in East Africa.
“There is no curriculum on how to supervise or teach at postgraduate level. The future of the quality of higher education in the region depends on the current quality of postgraduate studies,”said Prof. Mike Kuria, Deputy Executive Secretary, Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA).
“This relies on the number of qualified postgraduate teachers and supervisors. This workshop tries to fill that critical gap.”
The training is organised by regional education organisations that include the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)—through its flagship program, the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA).
“This workshop has enormous potential of contributing to the ongoing discourse on improving the quality of masters and PhD degrees produced in the region. It will provide a forum for leaders of graduate schools to share their experiences and to articulate their vision for producing high quality academia for the job market, ”says Prof. Peter Ngure, the CARTA Program Manager.
Dr. Helmut Blumbach, Director of DAAD’s regional office in Nairobi, states, that the focus on graduate training and supervision and the aim of establishing regional standards in this field is part and parcel of the longstanding and on-going collaboration of DAAD and IUCEA on quality assurance in higher education.
“There is no quality university education without sufficient numbers of well-trained PhDs. PhD training is the engine room of the university system. If the engine splutters, universities will not meet expectations,” he explains.
According to a statement, recommendations from the training will be presented by IUCEA, to vice chancellors, deputy vice chancellors, and commissions of university education among other policy makers.
The statement adds that the harmonised principles and guidelines for postgraduate studies and systems will ultimately be institutionalised in the participating institutions and countries.