Tuning Africa is a network of communities of academic experts who discuss, design and elaborate learning instruments and share the results. They gather around a single discipline or theme with the conscious aim of building mutual trust and confidence. They work in international, intercultural groups, respecting the institutional and national autonomy of co-participants. They share knowledge and experiences, while articulating and evaluating clear collective aims, objectives and outcomes at every step of the way.
The Tuning Africa pilot Project is implemented in the framework of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. Its first phase (2011 – 2013) covered 60 universities, representing the five sub-regions of Africa, with their great linguistic (French, English, Arabic and Portuguese) and cultural diversity. Separate groups focused on five subject areas: medicine, teacher education, agricultural sciences, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering. They helped each other to develop curricula that are tailored to the needs expressed by society in each of these subject areas. In this first phase, the five groups designed degree profiles that covered the generic and subject-specific competences that had been identified in broad consultation exercises.
The second phase of Tuning Africa (2015 – 2018) is a concrete deliverable of the 2014-2017 Roadmap of the 2014 EU-AU Heads of State and Government Summit. Tuning Africa II covers eight subject areas. Economics and applied geology have been added to the original five subject areas. One new transversal group now covers higher education management.
Tuning Africa II will complete the design process of the first phase and then move towards the challenge of implementing the designed curricula at participating universities.
The second phase has almost doubled the participation of African countries and universities so as to broaden the scope of the discussion and the impact of the project across the continent.
The general objective of the project is to contribute and support the harmonisation of higher education programmes and the creation of a revitalised, distinctive, attractive and globally competitive African higher education space, through an enhanced intra-African collaboration.
The specific objective of this project will relate to Scale up the Harmonisation and Tuning pilot initiative which took place over the period 2011-2013 from 60 to 120 universities and from 5 to a minimum of 7 subject areas by establishing new degree programmes, teaching, learning and assessment methods and defining joint agreements in subject areas.
Tuning Africa II develops 3 strategic lines:
Tuning began its work on a consistent system of designing degrees. The degrees would be competence-based and have student outcomes as the central focus. The degree profile holds a central position in Tuning methodology. Its satisfactory development is determined in relation to its manifest social relevance, to the quality of the entire degree and to recognition by other participant groups. The profiles guide the rest of the processes. They lead the entire degree and heavily influence all other aspects of the degree. Degree profiles were always clearly identified with the block of competences that must be developed to receive the degree. It is clear that a degree profile describes the specific characteristics of a qualification in terms of learning outcomes and competences. A degree profile describes in clear, understandable language what a learner should be expected to know, understand and do at the end of his/her learning experience.
After the definition of degree profiles, all Subject Areas must develop degree programmes at both undergraduate/postgraduate level potentially recognised by the universities involved. The degree programme deals with the length, level and definition of the programme in terms of competences and learning outcomes; it also analyses the methodologies for developing the appropriate strategy of teaching, learning and assessing those competences as well as setting up the internal systems for assuring programme quality.
For this line of implementation, the universities can decide to develop one of the following 2 tracks:
· Track 1: Institutional Degrees implemented: focuses on an internal process of implementation. This is a stage where academics work together within the subject area but in particular within their own institutions. The main objective is to implement a degree programme (related to the meta-profiles) at Bachelor, Master or Doctorate level in each University.
· Track 2: Joint/Double Degrees implemented: universitieswill work intensively with other partners in their SAG in order to define a joint/double degree. The main objective is to implement a joint degree programme (related to the meta-profiles) at Bachelor or Master or Doctorate among a number of universities.
The third line examines credits, and in particular the relationship between these and student workload.For Tuning, one of the most important issues to deal with is the time required for students to localize and process the information received, internalize, reflect and construct their own meanings to transform this information into knowledge and mobilize and contextualize this knowledge in simulated situations or practices that permit the consolidation of learning. It is essential to take into account the time spent by students in independent studies along with hours of classroom activities, laboratories, workshops, internships, among others.
Therefore, innovative degree programs must estimate adequately the workload required for students to achieve the learning outcomes specified in the curriculum. In this sense, the adoption of credits to consider the total amount of student workload –not just associated to formal activities—is a process that actually innovates in the teaching and learning process and induces the implementation of a student-centered curriculum in African universities.
There is no academic credit system shared by all African countries. Moreover, many higher education institutions in the region arestill rather unfamiliar with a credit system purported to support curricular change and lead the shift towards a student-centered and competence-based higher education.
There are two stages (which can be developed in parallel) in relation to Line 3:
1) Political definition of a Credit System for Africa: this stage will be in charge of the Tuning Africa Project Advisory Group (TAPAG). The main role of this group will be the support of all the initiatives developed by the universities and in particular to contribute to the definition of the basis of a credit system for Africa
2) Scientific research about Student Workload in Africa: this second stage must be coordinated with the Project Advisory Group however it will be the sole responsibility of the universities.A large survey focused on the Estimation of African Student Workload, from the perspective of professors and students will be conducted. All 120 universities must consult a number of students and professors in some courses/units which represent a semester.The consultation process will provide an overview of the total workload (in hours) that an African student needs in order to pass the courses provided in the 8 subject areas involved in Tuning Africa II. The survey will be based on both the perceptions of what professors and students consider as the time required for, or spent in, the acquisition of learning outcomes in the related courses in one particular semester in each subject area.