EAC states urged to harmonise academic papers

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Article 102 and 103 (a) of the EAC Treaty, he said, states that partner states undertake to cooperate in education, human resource development and in the development of Science and Technology.

Dr. James Otieno

An official of the East African Community secretariat has appealed to all member states to harmonize and mutually recognise academic qualifications of professionals in the region to enable free movement of labour.

With a total population over 150 million people in the region, the EAC wants the East African Community Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) to be strengthened and harmonised to benefit the professionals so that they can be able to serve in member states without any hindrances.

Dr. James Otieno Jowi, the Principal Education Officer at EAC said they have been pressing for all the five freedoms of movements to smoothly operate and be embraced by all member states. They include movement of goods, persons, labor, services and capital.

While briefing journalists from the six EAC member states in Arusha, Tanzania about the achievements and challenges the regional body was facing, Otieno called upon members to remove all hindrances to freedom of movement of professionals.

  He cited an example of some professionals whose academic documents issued by a recognized institution in a member country have been rejected elsewhere.

He said all the examination bodies should be able to recognize certificates issued by member states to enable smooth implementation of MRA and remove restrictions to facilitate free movement of labor.

He said MRA helps to eliminate quack ‘professionals’ who infiltrate the market and spoil the name of the sector by doing shoddy work.

He however regretted that some states had not yet signed MRAs for some professions, which he said still limits free movement of labor in those countries.

 The MRA, he said enables countries to accept certificates endorsed by their respective regulatory bodies and permit them to practice without necessarily sitting for examinations again.

Article 102 and 103 (a) of the EAC Treaty, he said, states that partner states undertake to cooperate in education, human resource development and in the development of Science and Technology.

He also cited Article 11, which provides for harmonization and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications in order to facilitate movement of labour and services.  

Under this arrangement, EAC states are bound to recognise the academic and professional qualifications granted, experiences obtained, requirements met and licences or certifications granted in other partner states as well as harmonise curricula, examinations, standards, certification and accreditation of educational and training institutions.

Under the arrangement, students and academic staff and skills (professional) are allowed free mobility.

According to Otieno, the MRA has registered a number of benefits to citizens in member states, including enhancement of mobility of professionals without much restrictions.

It also increases market access and competitiveness among professionals as well as providing regulatory development and cooperation among authorities.  

Since 2011, according to Otieno, at least four MRAs have been signed including Accounting (2011), Architectural (2011), Engineering (2012) and Veterinary (2016).

Whereas Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda have signed all the MRAs, Tanzania has not yet signed Architecture and Veterinary and Burundi is yet to sign Engineering and Veterinary.

He said processes towards signing of MRAs for Advocates, land surveyors and pharmacists were still ongoing.

NewVision.co.ug

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