Congolese higher education minister praises VLIR
A conference was held in Kinshasa from 6 to 10 June 2011 on the quality of higher education in DR Congo. Central themes were globalisation and reformation of higher education. VLIR-UOS was conference co-organiser. Quality assurance in higher education is a main part of the institutional cooperation of VLIR-UOS in DR Congo. Kathleen Wuytack, VLIR-UOS representative in DR Congo, is delighted to see the minister making concrete steps in the reformation of higher education and the links with the VLIR-UOS programme.
A large number of rectors and directors of public and private organisations took part in the conference alongside then minister for higher education, Léonard Mashako Mamba. The minister stressed the relevance of high-quality education. The minister's goal for the conference was to examine how higher education in DR Congo can establish international links and make progress towards achieving international quality standards. Special attention was given to the application of the system of licentiates, masters and doctors, the use of communication technology in higher education and the fit between education and the job market. The minister thanked such partners as the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF, as well as VLIR-UOS, CUD and the Belgian development cooperation for their contributions to the conference.
A step forward
Kathleen Wuytack, who took part in the conference as VLIR-UOS representative in DR Congo, was elated that the recommendations were formalised in two ministerial decisions shortly afterwards. The first one concerns the creation of an administrative body to bring higher education in DR Congo into the global education and research space. The appointment of the members of the administrative body was included in the second ministerial decision. Kathleen Wuytack: 'These ministerial decisions really are a step forward. This is the first initiative aimed at evolving an improved education system at national level that will allow DR Congo to join the rest of the academic world and gradually catch up. Adopting the system of licentiates, masters and doctorates necessarily entails the application of quality assurance. So there are many opportunities for cooperation between the VLIR-UOS programme for quality assurance in DR Congo and the reformation planned by the minister.'
Interest of the World Bank and the African Development Bank
Quality assurance has the interest of not only the universities and the authorities in DR Congo, but also donors like the World Bank and the African Development Bank. The World Bank makes funds available to expand quality care in DR Congo, based on the VLIR-UOS way of working. Four additional universities took part in the first quality assurance course alongside the VLIR-UOS partners. That is because the Congolese Ministry for Higher and University Education and Research wants to see the spread of quality assurance throughout the country. The African Development Bank funds the application of quality assurance in other provinces.
The Quality Assurance project was created with the assistance of emeritus professor Oswald Van Cleemput (UGent), VLIR's quality assurance unit and Flemish experts.