Harmonize Students #FeesPolicy in East Africa

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PETITION TO THE HONORABLE SPEAKER EALA AND EAC COUNCIL OF MINISTERS;

TASK THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS TO RE-ENFORCE THE COUNCIL DIRECTIVE ON HARMONIZING FEES POLICY AND WORKING TOWARDS EITHER MANDATING IUCEA TO OVERSEE ALL TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS OR CREATING ANOTHER INSTITUTION TO OVERSEE OPERATIONS OF NON-UNIVERSITY TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS

BACKGROUND
The Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) is an institution of the East AfricanCommunity (EAC) responsible for promoting the strategic and sustainable development of higher education systems and research for supporting East Africa’s socio-economic development and regional integration. IUCEA operates under an Act enacted in 2009 by the East African Legislative Assembly thus effectively integrating it into the EAC operational framework. Section 6(i) of the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) Act (2009) stipulates that the Council shall “encourage the exchange of students and staff between member universities”.

According to the East African Community Youth Policy 2013, a youth is defined as a person between the age of 15 and 35 years. The policy further estimates that the population of youth (15 to 35 years) as at 2011 was 45% (48 million) of the total population of the region with an expected growth of 82 million youths in the next 20 years.The youth are therefore considered for all intent and purposes to be significant stakeholders in the integration process.

The role of the youth is envisaged under Article 120(c) of The Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, which states that:’The Partner States undertake to closely cooperate amongst themselves in the field of social welfare with respect to the development and adaptation of a Common approach towards the disadvantaged and marginalized groups, including…… the Youth.’

The EAC Youth Summit held in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania on 2nd – 3rd November 2007, set the precedent for youth participation in the EAC integration.  The Summit acknowledged that information sharing; education on EAC integration and development is fundamental for enhancement and sustainability of  a political federation. The youth then called upon the EAC to engage young people as partners to reach out to their peers on issues concerning EAC Integration processes, terming it as one of the tools to drive national and regional development.

The developments in the Community, such as the coming into force of the Common Market Protocol, Customs Union and Monetary Union, and the move towards regional integration imply that universities and other higher education institutions in the region should respond positively by developing training and research programs that meet the human resource capacity needs and sustainable socio-economic development of the region. That rate of economic growth in the region should spur demand for well-trained human resources to support the growing economies and the emerging economic opportunities, and to satisfy the expanding labor market.

WHO WE ARE

The East African Community Secretariat through the Department of Political Affairs Department under the Nyerere Center for Peace Research (NCPR) organizes the EAC University Students Debate on Regional Integration. It is an annual event that started in 2012. So far, five (5) Debates have been successfully held in the region. The aim of the debate is to provide a regional platform to promote dialogue among the university students and youth and interest them in advocating for regional integration initiatives.

The East African Community Youth Ambassadors’ Platform (EAC-YAP) was launched during the 2ndUniversity Students’ Debate in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania. It is composed of EAC Youth Ambassadors, alumni Ambassadors, past debate participants and all other youth who are passionate about the EAC.  To date, the EAC Youth Ambassadors Platform consists of 150 Members and the numbers are growing on an exponential basis. This platform brings all the youth together with the purpose of bridging the information gap about the EAC integration and fosters their participation in accelerating the integration through knowledge and experience sharing.

The mandate of the East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform is derived from Articles 120 (c), 127, 128, 129 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community which inter aliaadvocates for and voices the interest of the youth across the region in the East African Community integration process.

The EACYAP works with the Ministries of East African Community Affairs in the Partner States, and several other youth agencies. EACYAP also works closely with institutions of the EAC including the Inter-University Council of East Africa and Organs including the East African Legislative Assembly especially, under the current leadership of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Daniel Kidega largely on sensitization activities. Our activities are made possible through basic funding of the EAC Secretariat and Development Partners to the Community.

Since August 2012, the EAC Youth Ambassadors have engaged and empowered young people to enhance their contribution to EAC integration agenda through effective peer training. Guided by the realities facing young people in the EAC region and anchored in the belief that young people are a catalyst for peace, democracy, equality, good governance and an essential resource for sustainable development and poverty eradication

However, YAP takes the responsibility to stand in this gap as champions of the youth cause, by advocating for causes that empower them, but also use the same platform to help operationalize the EAC integration agenda.  Aware that EALA and National Assemblies are a major policy institutions in terms of legislation and ratification which all contribute to strengthening the integration process, including the oversight role, to check implementations of the policies as pegged on Article 49 of the EAC Treaty, e.g the EALA has enacted over 70 pieces of legislation which are key to strengthening the integration process and upping the stakes of the citizens’ participation.   It is instructive to note that the laws passed by the EALA take precedence over the laws passed by the National Assemblies/Parliaments on matters within the purview of the Community; it’s in that accord that we present the petition below.

PETITION TO THE HONORABLE SPEAKER OF EALA AND THE EAC COUNCIL OF MINISTERS.

ACKNOWLEDGE THAT one of the key aspirations of EAC is to attract and sustain investments in the different sectors of the economies in the Partner States so as to spur socio-economic development and reduce poverty. In that regard, information from research is critically needed to guide investment choices and decisions. In addition, Higher Institutions of Learning need guidance to develop skillful human resources with diverse competencies at different levels in order to satisfy the current and future labor market needs and to sustain the region’s socio-economic development.

MINDFUL THAT; the IUCEA Act 2009 also mandates the institution to advise the EAC Partner States on higher education matters, and to contribute towards meeting national and regional developmental needs; developing quality assurance processes in order to ensure that teaching, learning and research in the region achieve and maintain international standards; developing human resource capacity in all disciplines of higher education in the Community; and promoting equal opportunities for all higher education students in East Africa, including those with special needs.

Aware that; IUCEA’s membership is limited to degree awarding institutions, and the rest of other Higher Learning Institutions are only catered for under the department of education within the EAC Secretariat, yet its mandated to advise EAC on matters pertaining all higher learning institutions,

Aware that membership to IUCEA is by application, and that a bill for the review of IUCEA Act 2009 is in advanced stages one of the issues therein is the mandatory membership of all degree awarding institutions,

Observe that; in 2004 the EAC council of Ministers gave a Council directive, to provide a harmonized fees structure in all public universities, and that some universities implemented this, while others did not, due to mainly budget constraints and differences in interpretation of what actually constitute a “university fee” and that it  negated the many private universities that have since been opened up as guided by the provisions of Article 23(2) of the CMP on commitments to liberalization of services including in the education sector

Acknowledging that; no survey has been carried out to determine the compliance with the 2004 council directive on charging uniform tuition fees in public universities,

MINDFUL THAT IUCEA has crafted a student’s mobility policy, that aims at transforming EAC into a common higher education area, and is working on a regional harmonized fee structure; which is in its final stages whose draft structure is under validation, and aims at facilitating movements of students across the region without hindrances,

Taking note that; the higher student’s mobility policy (2015) is to some extent emphasizing harmonizing university fees structures and not clear about other institutions of learning including non university institutions, secondary and primary institutions of learning,

Recognizing that if the harmonized fee structure is approved will not make fees charged the same but the methodology and parameters used will be the same for only universities, but not necessarily other academic institutions, and may not translate to having student’s from the EAC Partner States paying same fees as Nationals of the particular institutions they are admitted to,

MINDFUL THAT this petition expresses the desire and the commitment of EACYAP to champion the EAC Youth cause, aware of their demographics; and place them at the centre of its development agenda through strategic policy interventions like education and create an enabling environment of free movement of all students with ease of access to education facilities from anywhere within the EAC,

AWARE THAT the EAC Treaty and EAC Partner States’ Constitutions do recognize youth as important stakeholders in sustainable development and integration processes and have undertaken initiatives to ensure youth participation in the integration process as mentioned in Article 120 (c) of the Treaty.

We, the East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform hereby petition the Honorable Speaker of EALA and the EAC Council of Ministers to:

  • TAKE COGNIZANCE of the 2004 Council Directive and re-enforce it to have all Academic institutions in EAC create an enabling environment as provided for by the student mobility policy 2015, Section 6(i) of IUCEA Act (2009), and Article 7(1) of the EAC Common Market Protocol on free movement of persons, by adopting a harmonized fees structure for all students from EAC Member states to pay same fees as Nationals in those particular academic institutions at all academic levels,
  • URGE the EAC to revisit and broaden the EAC education policy, by providing a broad based framework that will encourage increased student mobility which in effect will promote social integration through programs like student exchange programs around academic institutions and disciplines, cross boarder internship opportunities, a regional student loan scheme, sports galas and cultural festivals among others,
  • RECOMMEND THE EAC to either create an institution with an oversight responsibility on non University tertiary institutions in the East African Community or mandate IUCEA to take on the overall institutional role as the agency overseeing all Higher Learning Institutions as mandated by the 2009 IUCEA Act as the institution to advise the EAC Partner States on higher education matters.

 

We hereby append our signatures to this petition.
Posted on August 21, 2017



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