Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, has called on ECOWAS to harmonise the education systems and curricula of member states in order to enhance the free movement of persons in the sub-region.
He said the free movement of citizens within the sub-region required that citizens were able to get jobs and employment in any country in the sub-region depending on one’s educational qualification, skills and job experience, and competencies.
Prof Oquaye made the call in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the Delocalised meeting for the Joint Committees on Education, Science and Technology, and the Committee on Information Technology of the ECOWAS Parliament in Accra.
The five-day conference is on the theme: “The status of harmonisation of Educational Systems and curricular in West Africa: With special reference on the equivalence of Degrees, Diploma, Certificates and other qualifications.”
The meeting which is being hosted in Accra for the first time is being attended by the leadership and representatives of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Prof Oquaye also stated that due to variations in Certificates, Degrees, and Diplomas especially between the Anglophone and Francophone blocs in the sub-region, there have been challenges of acceptance or otherwise of these qualifications from persons who move from one country to the other in the sub-region in search of jobs.
He said the issue of equivalence of diplomas, degrees and certificates and other qualifications across the sub-region was an important issue in regional economic and social integration.
“It is for this reason that I consider the subject for this delocalised meeting an important one, ” he said.
Prof Oquaye also observed that it was vital for ECOWAS to promote labour mobility through a harmonised system that recognised the equivalence of diplomas, degree, and certificates across the sub-region.
He said the overriding aim should be to provide relevant and functional educational systems that would train the requisite human resource to address the challenges of regional economic development and integration.
He commended the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament for the decision to delocalise its committee meetings to locations in the Member States outside its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
He said this would enhance the visibility of the Community Parliament as well as bring programmes closer to the people.
He said it would also provide citizens of the sub-region the opportunity of participating in some of the meetings.
Mr Moustapha Cisse Lo, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament charged the delegates to expedite the process of harmonising the educational systems and curricula in the sub-region.
He said the organisation of the education systems and variations in degrees and other qualifications would go a long way to enhance the integration of the sub-region.
He expressed confidence that delegates from the ECOWAS Parliament would use the opportunity to identify the roles and support other stakeholders in the finalization of the development and implementation of the policy of equivalence of qualifications and harmonisation of the educational systems in the region.
Prof Kwesi Yankah, Minister of State in-Charge of Tertiary Education expressed the need for the striking of equivalence between Francophone and Anglophone countries in terms of qualifications to ensure uniformity and high standards.
He said the harmonisation of the academic standards should be a priority for sub-region and the necessary support should be given by stakeholder to make it a reality.
He expressed the hope that the outcome of the conference would enable stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and address the challenges in the system.