EDU Secretary-General receives personal briefing from multi-rolled Ugandan Diplomat.
H.E. Irving Levance, the Secretary-General of the Intergovernmental Organization EDU received a personal briefing on educational matters from the Ugandan perspective, delivered by H.E. Stephen T.K. Katenta-Apuli.
Ambassador Katenta-Apuli serves the Government of Uganda in a quite array list of appointments including being the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdoms of Belgium & Netherlands and The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as well as a plethora of intergovernmental organizations including the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the World Customs Organization and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).
The Secretary-General thanked the Ambassador and declared himself honored for such a busy statesman take time to receive him.
The briefing began with the Ambassador serving an excellent pot of Ugandan Tea which was very much to the Secretary-General’s liking.
In a polished briefing, Mr. Katenta-Apuli explained that education in Uganda has a long history. It was amongst the first to establish a university, Makerere, in 1922 which had reputation for excellence with many students coming from abroad to study there, including from South Africa, Rhodesia and Southern Sudan. It became the University of East Africa and operated in close association with the University of London. It later split into the University of Dar es Salaam, Makerere University and the University of Nairobi.
Education on all levels suffered under the Amin regime who did not personally value education and this led to an exodus of trained university lecturers abroad. Over the last 15 years the university has worked to regain its previous standing and now ranks in the top 10 institutions of higher learning in southern Africa.
Uganda is trying to reconnect with its educational heritage and regain its status as an education hub. Through religious rivalry in colonial times the country had a rich supply of schooling, principally both Catholic and Protestant faith based schools and to a lesser extent, Muslim schools.
Privatization across the board in Uganda, which also applied to the education sector, led to a boom period in which many private schools, colleges and universities were established, including online and distance learning institutions.
This makes accreditation a very pertinent issue as the priority is to maintain quality in a mushrooming industry.
At a time when higher education is being transformed from the monopoly of the elite to the right of the masses and when global forces are transforming the way higher education is being delivered, the role of a regulatory agency becomes very crucial.
To regulate higher education, and to guide the establishment of institutions of higher learning as well as ensure that quality and relevant education is delivered, the National Council for Higher Education was established by an Act of Parliament. It is a semi-autonomous and self-accounting body with the mission to set standards and regulations to ensure that all public and private tertiary education institutions in Uganda create, sustain and provide relevant and quality higher education for all qualified Ugandans and to meet the local, national and global higher education challenges of the future.
It interacts with the Inter-University Council of East Africa on matters of quality and equivalence. Although some inroads have been made, this is an ongoing process and that has not yet reached a fully functional stage. This is parallel to cooperative agreements that have been made with Flemish Universities.
Accreditation and equivalency are seen as essential if Uganda is to regain its position as an education hub. Participation in the Intergovernmental Organization EDU is therefore seen as a positive step in that direction.
EDU Assessment Committee and Formal Participation
H.E. Stephen T.K. Katenta-Apuli kindly agreed to act as a liaison between EDU and Uganda for both the recruitment of suitably qualified Ugandans to join the Assessment Committee of EDU and to present the initial paperwork to his government for formal participation.
The briefing ended with the Ambassador delivering papers on the National Council for Higher Education and an informative video in DVD format entitled “Affordable Quality Education through Public Private Sector Partnership”.