The proliferation of bogus colleges and phony fly-by-night training institutions in Namibia will soon be a thing of the past, once the current Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) Act is revised to plug existing loopholes.
The existing NQA Act 29 of 1996 does not explicitly make the accreditation of training institutions obligatory, and this creates a loophole for any person, institution, or organisation to set up an institution and offer training programmes without being subjected to quality assurance process, which results in the mushrooming of training providers offering unaccredited or bogus programmes.
With such a serious criminality continuing unabated, the Ministry of Higher Education together with the NQA has taken a huge step to bring to an end such illegal practices by revisiting the current Act which has loopholes in allowing unscrupulous individuals to rob people of their hard-earned cash for worthless qualifications.
Over the years, parents and aspiring students have fallen prey to bogus training providers who swindled them of huge amounts of money for qualifications that proved worthless as they were rejected by the NQA and prospective employers.
In an interview with New Era yesterday, Franz Gertze the CEO of NQA said the issue is high on the agenda of the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, and that
amendments to the Act could be concluded in six months.
“If you have listened to the budget statement of the minister, she came out very clearly in support of the NQA that accreditation will be made compulsory. The amendments to the NQA Act has started in all earnest, which will give us power to go out and close down places, if need be,” he said.
“We are heading to close the loopholes once and for all. Once we conclude the amendments to the Act, which I pray will be happen within six months, offenders will be identified, named and shamed,” Gertze elaborated.
It was observed there has been an increase in academic fraud. Towards the end of last year, close to 200 qualifications were verified to be fraudulent by the NQA in consultation with the affected institutions.
Additionally, around 23 people were arrested by the Namibian Police for possessing fake qualifications, which they used to gain admission to institutions of higher learning and even employment.
Gertze says even if the new Act is effected the actual power still lies “in all of us to tell these people to stop these unscrupulous behaviour of exploiting people – giving them papers that are worth nothing”.
“But I am glad to inform you that the minister came out very firmly and said that NQA must be empowered and that the Act must change this year. From our side, we have already drafted the amendments and it (the Bill) will now go through its normal procedures before it’s tabled in parliament,” he revealed.
He urged students to first do painstaking homework and ensure the academic institutions they want to enroll with are recognised by the NQA to avoid being swindled.
He revealed that on Friday they would again announce the newly accredited training institutions in addition to the existing 36. The number is expected to increase to beyond 50 accredited and recognised training providers.