Zambia: accrediting higher education institutions to strengthen quality assurance


Zambia, as one of the 10 beneficiary countries of the project “Strengthening Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa”, convened the national Project Inception Meeting in Lusaka on 5 June 2018. UNESCO launched the project in 2017 aimed at enhancing higher education systems in Africa.

With increasing demand for quality higher education, the Government of Zambia introduced legislations to involve the private sector in the provision of higher education, leading to the proliferation of private higher education Institutions (HEIs). To effectively manage the mushrooming of higher education institutions, the government established a national quality assurance agency, the Higher Education Authority (HEA), with the Higher Education Act of 2013. 

Since its operationalization, HEA has progressively accredited higher education institutions, which represents an essential step to build a higher education system that delivers quality programmes. Apart from the six public universities recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education, HEA has registered approximately sixty private higher education institutions so far, and the Authority is mandated to accredit academic programmes in both public and private HEIs.

To boost its institutional capacity, the Higher Education Authority seeks to further strengthen the capacity of quality assurance professionals in assessment, accreditation, standard setting, monitoring and evaluation of higher education institutions and programmes, with the support of the UNESCO-Shenzhen Project.

During the national Project Inception Meeting, Professor Stephen Simukanga, Director of the Higher Education Authority, project focal point, reiterated the objective of strengthening quality assurance by participating in the Project, as a springboard to the enhancement of higher education provision in Zambia. The capacity building activities, conducted in partnership with UNESCO, will contribute to HEA’s mandate to build “an efficient and effective higher education regulatory agency which will bring forth a quality higher education system that is well coordinated, accessible, equitable, responsive and relevant.”

The Inception Meeting established working modalities in implementing project activities in Zambia, with the active participation of quality assurance stakeholders, including representative from the Government, Higher Education Authority, the Zambia Qualification Authority, Technical Education Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority, Teaching Council of Zambia, Health Professionals Council of Zambia, and higher education institutions.

The implementation of quality assurance activities in Southern African countries including Zambia, Malawi, and Namibia is supported by the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, with involvement of UNESCO Windhoek Office for Namibia, in coordination with UNESCO Headquarters.