By Patrick Opio
Senior Communications Officer
Lira University is in partnership with FAWE-Uganda Chapter to develop curriculum and launch the Higher Education Access Certificate Programme in 2024.
At a joint meeting held at Lira University’s EMBA Hall on 7th November 2023, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Assoc. Prof. Okaka Opio Dokotum praised FAWE-Uganda Chapter for accepting to collaborate with Lira University in developing the curriculum for HEAP programme.
“As Lira University, we are indeed grateful to FAWE-Uganda Chapter for this partnership gesture. At this rate, we hope to start the HEAP programme in the near future,” Prof. Okaka Opio Dokotum asserts.
The DVC added that the HEAP programme is an affirmative action aimed at providing higher education opportunities for those who could have not done well in the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education(UACE) due to unavoidable circumstances.
Mr. Calvin Okello, the Team Leader, FAWE-Uganda Chapter, lauded the Lira University Management for their concerted efforts and steering the institution in a good direction leading to its steady progress despite being a young university.
Mr. Okello revealed that FAWE-Uganda Chapter is committed to supporting Lira University in many areas including providing 20 scholarships for students who will enrol for HEAP programme.
Dr. Epila Jackie, the Acting Head, Department of Science and Vocational Education noted that the purpose of the meeting was to foster an exchange of experiences, challenges and lessons learnt by others, including some universities currently implementing the programme.
How HEAP Programme will help students access degree or diploma education in any University
The Higher Education Access Programme (HEAP) provides learners with the basic introductory knowledge, cognitive and conceptual skills and practical techniques required for higher education studies in their chosen field of study. Attainment of a HEAP Certificate signifies that the learner has attained a basic level of knowledge and competence required to undertake higher education studies at bachelors or diploma levels.
The Higher Education Certificate Programme first developed in 2015 was intended to be an intensive one-year programme intended for students who have successfully completed the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) or its equivalent but who may not have attained sufficient grades to enrol for Diplomas or Degree programmes.
The programme is also intended for students from countries whose secondary school qualifications are not considered equivalent to UACE but permit admission into Higher Education in those countries. Such students, instead of being required to sit for A-levels, are subjected to a Foundational programme of one year, after which they are able to join degree and diploma programmes in Uganda.
It is also designed to enable holders of vocational qualifications which are considered equivalent to UACE to bridge and cross over to higher education programmes. The higher education certificate is at level 4 of the Uganda Higher Education Qualifications Framework. The level descriptors for this qualification level are as follows.
The individuals who obtain a level 4 qualification are able to:
a. Demonstrate basic knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles associated with their area(s) of study and an ability to evaluate and interpret these within the context of that area of study;
b. Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, in order to develop lines of arguments and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of their area of study;
c. Evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to their area of study and/or work; Communicate the results of their study/work accurately and reliably, and with structured and coherent arguments;
e. Apply their subject-related transferable skills in contexts where individuals may have some limited personal responsibility, but the criteria for decisions and the scope of the task are well defined;
f. Undertake further training and develop new skills within a structured and managed environment.
g. Work with others to achieve defined objectives. In addition, they should be able to take up leadership roles in group work.
The Minimum Standards for the Higher Education Certificate Programme
This second edition of the minimum standards for the Higher Education Access Programme arises out of the comprehensive review of the existing minimum standards for the Higher Education in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and the General one. Key aspects of this review include;
1. Including the word ‘access’ in the programme name. This helps to emphasize the key objective of the HEC which is to create an access route to higher education. The resultant name becomes Higher Education Access Programme (HEAP)
11. The three separate minimum standards for the Higher Education Programmes in biological sciences, physical sciences and general, have been structured into one document with three separate tracks.
ill. The courses of development studies, life skills education, communication skills and computing skills have been comprehensively revised and structured into two courses. These are Academic Writing and Study Skills and Life Skills educations. These two will form part of the three cross-cutting courses for all tracks. In addition, a third course ‘Foundational Mathematics has been revised and will be a cross-cutting course for biological and general track.
IV. For the Biological Sciences Track, chemistry and biology courses have been revised and structured into three to cater for students without A’ level background in Chemistry and/or Biology.
v. For the Physical Science Track, Mathematics and physics courses have been revised and structured into three separate courses to cater for candidates without any background in A-level Mathematics/or Physics.