Dutch impact on Mozambican Higher Education
Earlier this month the vice minister for Education of Mozambique, Dr Arlindo Chilundo, visited Nuffic to celebrate Nuffic's 60th anniversary and to attend the Mozambique day organised for Dutch institutions that participate in the NPT and NICHE programmes.
NPT stands for 'The Netherlands Programme for Institutional Strengthening of Post-secondary Education and Training Capacity' and NICHE stands for 'Netherlands Initiative for Capacity development in Higher Education'.
In his speech at the Nuffic lustrum celebration Chilundo stated that Mozambique has benefited much from the Dutch development cooperation programmes in the last decades. He knows this from his own experience, having been involved in the implementation of several projects within these programmes.
Examples of impacts include:
Establishment and consolidation of three polytechnic institutes;
Training of secondary school teachers;
Development and introduction of MA programs in Public Administration, Development Studies and ICT;
Adaptation of curricula to be sensitive to HIV/AIDS.
Dr Chilundo feels that Mozambique has now turned from a passive recipient into an active partner in the cooperation.
In the same week Dutch Institutions of higher education involved in the MHO, NPT and NICHE projects in Mozambique had been invited to the Mozambique day. On 10 January they discussed experiences and heard the latest news on the programme and Mozambique from Nuffic experts and from Dr Chilundo.
A representative from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that the present programmes focus on four policy themes: food security, water, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and security and the legal order.
She encouraged project implementers to explicitly report on the links between the system level and these focus areas.
Path to intercultural cooperation
Part of the programme of the Mozambique day was a discussion on specific aspects of intercultural communication. Among the experiences a few topics stood out as general experienced obstacles such as the importance of:
Hierarchy in Mozambique. Participants in the workshop recommended each other to:
- know the hierarchy within the partner institution;
- try and make agreements on the highest possible level;
- use of Dutch hierarchical levels in the communication with Mozambican counterparts;
- take time to invest in good relations with the project partner.
The level of decision making. One participant said it is important to know who is authorised for the project at the lowest possible level to increase efficiency. It was also suggested not to wait for an email reply but to call or send a text message. Most Mozambicans have at least two mobiles and they are always on.
Planning and shared responsibility. Recommendations shared among the participants included joint and realistic planning based on the real possibilities of staff involved. Making sure that the project becomes part of the regular work.
The need for incentives. In general, staff involved in capacity building projects in Mozambique do not receive any additional time or salary to compensate for the extra work hours spent on the project. This often leads to a low priority. The participants came up with several suggestions to avoid this, for example, by convincing decision makers at the highest level in the organisation to make time or money available for the project. If this is not an option then you could stress the opportunities the project offers to the individuals in terms of publications, reputation, networking, and knowledge and skills.
The Mozambican view
But how would Mozambicans describe the Dutch? Most likely as open, straightforward and honest, but also as brutally frank, direct and impatient. The Dutch always seem to want quick results. Much appreciation is shown by Mozambicans for communication in Portuguese rather than English, as this facilitates the project processes.
Quality assurance and accreditation
Mozambique is planning to link up with the Bologna process and is now in the early stages of setting up an accreditation system for higher education. Two NPT projects (CHESS and HERIP) supported the interventions that led to the approval of the National System for Evaluation, Accreditation and Quality Assurance (SINAQES) and the establishment of its supervisory body the National Council for Quality Assurance (CNAQ). Inspection staff will be trained shortly.
During a visit to NVAO, Mr Karl Dittrich and Mr Lucien Bollaert briefly but comprehensively explained the Dutch and Flemish accreditation systems in a Q&A session. At the end of the session Chilundo commented how pleased he was that the discussions had confirmed that Mozambique is heading in the right direction with its new accreditation system.
Mozambican Higher Education
However, Dr Chilundo also acknowledged that there is still quite a long way to go. This is no surprise, considering that Mozambique’s higher education started in the 1950s and became independent as late as 1976. Since the 80s higher education has grown due to increased participation of the local population. More details on Mozambican professional higher Education and the labour market can be found in the recently published .
According to Mr. Chilundo Mozambique is on the right track working together with partners from the Netherlands in the struggle to a more just society, more democracy, improvement of human rights, and social and economic development. Among the themes for future partnerships Chilundo mentions ‘Internationalization and regional integration’, bridging the often wide gap between development cooperation and internationalisation of education.