The Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) has advised the public to not overly focus on the university entry requirements as the only parameter for failure or success. Adding that there are other institutions such as colleges and vocational centres that offer quality assured qualifications after grade 12.
The recently released grade 12 results indicated that about 47 000 students who registered for the 2017 NSSC exams have not qualified for tertiary education leaving them with options of either improving or registering at private institutions of higher learning.
NQA Chief Executive Officer, Franz Gertze said both private and public institutions of higher learning set out to equip students with the necessary skills required in the job market.
“With the demand of tertiary education increasing annually, accredited institutions play a crucial role in providing quality assured qualifications to learners in order to meet this need. All institutions, public and private should play a critical role in the development of the nation,” he said.
Gertze said although there may be a perceived connection between the mushrooming of unaccredited institutions and the grade 12 results, there is no empirical evidence to support the assumption. “However, bogus institutions seem to mainly target learners who desperately need access to higher education,” he noted. In 2017 close to 40 institutions lodged applications for accreditation with the NQA. To date the NQA has a total of 43 accredited institutions of which 31 are private and assures that their qualifications are of good standing.
However, Gertze mentions that training providers are not automatically guaranteed accreditation after submitting an application due to certain requirements that need to be met before being granted accreditation status.
Moreover, accreditation may be revoked should the NQA have good reasons that an accredited body no longer meets the criteria set for accreditation or has failed to meet its financial obligations in terms of these regulations or Act, amongst others. Before revoking any accreditation, the NQA contacts the said institution to notify them that the NQA has good cause to believe that it no longer meets the criteria for accreditation. The NQA then gives a directive on the steps to be taken for accreditation to remain valid and if the institution does not implement the steps, accreditation will be revoked.
There were cases whereby the NQA was required to review the accreditation status of an institution after discovering the institution did not conform to the regulations put in place.
The NQA started the process of amending its Act which will empower it to close down institutions which are not accredited. This action will come as a last resort in the NQA’s efforts to ensure quality education. Undertaking a hands-on approach, the NQA engages with training providers to understand what their intentions are and the challenges they face. Through this engagement, the NQA then guides the training providers through the accreditation process and regulations. “Closing down an institution has greater implications on the learners then just shutting down a training provider operating without accreditation. This approach will ensure that institutions have a clear understanding of providing quality education to the nation, resulting in fewer mushrooming unaccredited institutions,” Gertze expressed.
During the process of auditing or accreditation, the NQA assesses the qualification types that are to be offered and looks into how these met the needs of the market. This ensures that the qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which is the national system for organizing qualifications in a way that makes them easier to understand and compare while speaking to the needs of the market.
Gertze affirmed that as a country that strives toward economic growth and stability, quality education is the core through which this can become a reality.
“Quality higher education ensures that development plans set out for the country are met and professionals within the working environment are equipped with the skills and knowledge to completely perform in their jobs,” he stated.