Over the last two decades, the demand for higher education in East Africa has been growing, coupled with the exponential increase in the number of public and private higher education institutions. Currently, the number of IUCEA member institutions is one hundred and forty (140) most of which teach social work.
The Inter-University Council for East Africa is one of the nine institutions of the East African Community (EAC) funded by the 7 Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo to facilitate co-ordination and co-operation of academic activities in all accredited universities both Public and Private in the region. It was integrated into the EAC operational framework through an Act of the East African legislative assembly in 2009.
In 2006, IUCEA initiated a process aimed at harmonising regional quality assurance through establishing a common East African Quality Assurance Framework, regional quality assurance office at the IUCEA Secretariat, and setting regional higher education benchmarks and quality standards based on internationally recognised frameworks.
On May 5, 2023, IUCEA together with 7 partner states representatives and the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda-(NASWU) had the first meeting to discuss standardizing social work education in East Africa partner states. The social work benchmarks will serve as minimum standards for social work education, used as a point of reference for evaluating performance or level of quality and provide a means for academic community to describe the nature and characteristics of programmes in a specific subject or subject area. The benchmarks will also represent general expectations about standards for the award of qualifications at a given level in terms of the attributes and capabilities that graduates should have demonstrated.
The benchmarking process will review the status of Social Studies curriculum in general and social work and social administration specifically in the region, discuss and agree on a framework for the benchmarks of Social Studies programme, identify key stakeholders and define their roles and map their expectations, establish a road map to design a Bachelor Social Work and Social Administration programme for East African Higher Learning Institutions. The benchmarks will also consider existing member country social work standards and the Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training 2020, as approved by the International federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work.
The benchmarking and standardization process will answer the following questions (1) What is the current status of Social Work and Social Administration programmes in East Africa? (2) Which quality aspects can be identified from the design and delivery of Social Work and Social Administration programme in each of the Partner State? (3) How can the design and delivery of Social Work and Social Administration programme in East Africa be harmonized so as to ascertain the quality, comparability and mobility of the university students across the region? (4)How can university lecturers be empowered to cope with the challenges in delivery of Social Work and Social Administration programme in East African higher learning institutions? (5) How can the key stakeholders in Social Work and Social Administration programmes be involved in improving quality of social service delivery in East African? (6) What will be the areas of focus/specialization and the courses in Social Work and Social Administration programme?
The process will lead to a common understanding on the framework and the roadmap for the development of the benchmarks for the Bachelor for Social Work and Social Administration and the implementation plan according to Prof Michael Mawa and Prof Ndabarushimana the Head of Quality Assurance and Qualifications Framework Unit at the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and Senior Quality Assurance and Standards officer respectively.
On his side, Mr. Michal Byamukama Ntanda, the president of the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda-(NASWU) shared with stakeholders the need to engage and make wider consultations with other key stakeholders at regional and international level like the Global Social Workforce Alliance (GSWA), and the International Federation of Social Works (IFSW) for quality and sustainable standards.
Submitted by, John Mary Ssekate,
National Association of Social Workers of Uganda-(NASWU).