Windhoek – The Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Iita Kandjii-Murangi, has expressed her concern about the mushrooming of unaccredited training institutions that continue to operate unabated in the country.
Kandjii-Murangi said there are 38 quality assured training providers in Namibia, but “it is regrettable there are an equally high number of institutions that are operating without accreditation from the Namibia Qualification Authority (NQA), while the reality is that though the NQA may be aware of these institutions, legally there is very little it can do to stop the proliferation of these elements.”
The minister made the remarks on Friday when she handed accreditation certificates to 21 different training institutions, which span across the country.
She said that at the time of drafting the current legal framework there may have been some limitations in terms of capacity to enforce certain regulations. However, she added, the landscape has changed drastically and with that a legal paradigm shift is necessary to empower the NQA to fully exercise its mandate as the sector regulator.
Kandjii-Murangi called on training providers that are currently operating without accreditation to engage the NQA and get their houses in order.
“Once the new law is enforced, the government, through the NQA will leave no stone unturned in smoking out bogus operators. It is also my assertion that funding for students should be linked to accreditation. This means that only students who are studying at accredited institutions should be funded,” stated the minister of higher education.
“I thus fully support the amendment of the NQA Act which I believe is long overdue and in particular the stance to make accreditation compulsory for all training providers. This will effectively bring an end to the exploitation of Namibians by training providers taking advantage of the loopholes in the current enabling legislation,” stressed Kandjii-Murangi.
She strongly encouraged prospective students to conscientiously verify the accreditation status of any institution before making the important decision to entrust their future to that institution.
“Students should make it critically important to study at quality assured institutions – if not, they should brace themselves for a rude awakening when they graduate and realize that their qualification is not even worth the paper it is printed on,” cautioned Kandjii-Murangi.
The chairperson of the NQA Martha Mbombo said the NQA appreciates the patience exercised by some training providers with regard to the delay in the NQA handing them accreditation certificates, especially those accredited after June 2014.
She said the delay was partly caused by the NQA re-branding exercise that took place at the end of May 2014, adding that they had to start a process of drawing up new certificates to incorporate the new logo.
“With fraudulent activities on the rise, the NQA also had to work on improved security features on the certificates of accreditation in order to protect that public from misleading counterfeit certificates. This was a lengthy process considering that the suppliers of these improved securities are based in South Africa,” Mbombo elaborated.
Mbombo said that for students, accreditation provides value related to not only judging quality, but also obtaining employment, receiving student financial assistance, transferring credits as well as assisting with student mobility.
Whereas for the providers accreditation promotes accountability through ongoing external evaluation of the institution or programme as reflected in accreditation standards.