Dr. Rispa Odongo was the Chairperson of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the development of African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in higher education (ASG-QA), one of the tools developed by the Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Initiative (2015-2018), and a major action line of the Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation System (PAQAF). She continued to be instrumental in the delivery of several activities of HAQAA2 (2019-2022), among others things in training sessions for agencies and ministries in preparation for agency reviews and consultancy visits and writing feature articles on “The ASG-QA: Where to go from here”. Dr. Odongo had also been tagged to be the rappoteur for the consolidated report of HAQAA2 agency reviews and consultancy visits.

In December 2018, she chaired a Panel of three reviewers that conducted pilot external review on National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education (NAQAAE), Egypt, using the ASG-QA and the model methodology the TWG had developed. Between April/May 2018 and August/September 2018, she provided technical assistance to the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Namibia for the implementation of the Institutional Quality Audit Sub-System. Dr. Rispa Odongo developed Quality Assurance training modules for higher education on behalf of IUCEA/UNESCO in 2018/2019. Dr. Odongo also presented papers on EQA at national, regional and international conferences. All of this she has done upon her retirement from the Commission for University Education (CUE) of Kenya, where she has an extensive and impactful career.

She was a holder of a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership from Walden University, USA, a Postgraduate Certificate in Quality Assurance from the University of Melbourne, Australia, a Master of Science in Animal Production and Health from the University of Edinburgh (U.K) and a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi (Kenya).

Following her retirement from the Commission for University Education (CUE) in 2016 after 23 years of service, she served in a number of regional and international positions offering expertise in Quality Assurance. In 2019, she trained Quality Assurance staff in Quality Assurance Agencies from Southern African countries on External Quality Assurance for Higher Education on behalf of IIEP/UNESCO. In March 2019, she supported the Association of African Universities (AAU) in collaboration with African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN) to facilitate a workshop at the University of Nairobi, Kenya on Good Practices in quality assurance in higher education to enlighten QA agencies and HEIs on current developments in QA.

At the Commission for University Education, Kenya (1993 to 2016), Rispa was Head of Department of Curriculum (Programme Accreditation) – 2004 and 2013. She was central to the development of several standards and guidelines for quality assurance used by the Commission, namely: Guidelines for Preparing Proposals for Establishment of Universities; Curriculum Standards and Guidelines; Guidelines for preparing University Charter; Guidelines for Institutional Quality Audit of Universities; Standards and Guidelines for Open and Distance Learning; and Standards and Guidelines for E-learning. She served as Head of Department of Quality Audit from September 2014 to December 2016 when she retired from the Commission. She was responsible for both programme and institutional quality audit, and collaboration between universities. She has presented several papers on quality assurance at national, regional and international workshops and conferences.

She was instrumental in the development of the Handbook Processes, Standards and Guidelines for Quality in Higher Education, Commission for Higher Education (Kenya), 2008. The Handbook contributed to the development of the IUCEA Handbook “Roadmap to Quality: Handbook for Quality Assurance in Higher Education” aimed at harmonising quality assurance framework in higher education in East Africa. She was the Coordinator of the Kenyan Chapter, of the IUCEA/DAAD/East African QA system, between 2006 and 2014. She developed the training module on the Concept of Quality and Quality Assurance in higher education on behalf of the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) in consultation with UNESCO.

Between 2007 and 2014, she served as Secretary to several Panels on programme quality audit in the East African region, namely: (1) Bachelor of Business Administration (Maseno University, Kenya); (2) Bachelor of Business Administration – Marketing (Nzumbe University, Tanzania); (3) Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, Egerton University, Kenya); (4) Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Makerere University, Uganda); (5) Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering (Ardhi University, Tanzania); (6) Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, BMS (National University of Rwanda); (7) Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (Moi University, Kenya); (8) Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (Kampala International University, Uganda); and (9) Bachelor of Commerce (Strathmore University, Kenya). She had also been a Secretary to the Panels for institutional quality audit undertaken at the University of Nairobi (Kenya); and Strathmore University (Kenya).

Prior to Joining the Commission for University Education she worked for the Animal Health and Industry Training Institute (AHITI) as a trainer. She served as a member of the Board of Governors of Marist International University College, Kenya, where she provided expertise on quality assurance.

She also served as a member of the Council of Kenya School of Government, a body responsible for public service capacity building. She was part of the Steering Committee that developed the UNESCO Portal on Recognized Higher Education Institutions in the World, in which Kenya was one of the 18 pilot countries. Other countries included in the project were, China, USA, Canada, U.K., Australia and Nigeria.

She was a member of the International Panel on Climate Change between 1992 and 1995 and was acknowledged by the Panel for having contributed to the Body winning a Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Working Team 2 on Health.

Dr. Rispa Odongo was a mentor to many people she worked with nationally, regionally and globally. She hugely shaped people’s lives with her intellect, insight and strength while offering leadership guidance and advice in the positions she held.

Dr Rispa Odongo, she dedicated all her life to education and for to enhancement of quality of education in her country, in the region, in Africa and for the world. Professionalism and passion in all activities is the main lesson that we learnt from Rispa that we could never forget.

In all her positions: teaching, doing research, leading departments, leading institutions, leading processes and chairing working groups, Rispa Odongo dedicated special attention to people. Everywhere She worked, She really took all people around and all stakeholders of the processes in which she was engaged into her heart. Even after retirement Rispa continued working to promote better education, to promote better life and free down for people.

Rest in peace, Rispa, you are in our heart and your work will remain for ever.

Prof. Ana Nhampule

Vice Rector, Universidade Joachim Chissano

It is very rare when our paths cross with those who were destined to shape people’s lives. Dr. Rispa Odongo was one of the exceptional pioneers who left a mark on Higher Education in Africa. I first met Dr. Rispa Odongo in January 2017, when she was the chair of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the ASG-QA. She proved to be a strong, focused and supportive leader during that time. She was definitely the force behind the delivery of these standards in a timely and excellent manner. Our relation developed over the years from colleagues to friends. Her life and success should be an inspiration to all African Women. I will cherish her friendship all my life. You will be missed dear Rispa.

Youhansen Eid

President NAQAAE

My first time meeting Dr. Rispa Odongo was in 2016 at the airport on our way to Namibia for an International Quality Assurance Conference in Higher Education. From that moment she become my mentor on QA. She was immensely well versed on QA and had a great network across the continent and the globe. She set the standards and was humble, always willing to help or guide me through the work she undertook on the development of the ASG-QA. She´s been an inspiration to many and her light will shine forever. Rispa, I will miss our calls but I know you can now rest in peace.


Apiyo Okwiri

Project Manager, OBREAL Global

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