Newly proposed measures formulated by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) and still to be made law will ensure that accreditation is compulsory for all training providers operating in Namibia.
Currently one of the biggest challenges that face the NQA is that the entity does not have the full power to effectively shut down any institution that has not passed its quality assurance process, i.e., that it is able to provide education at the set national standards.
There has been a strong public outcry about the number of unaccredited training providers operating in the country, in effect diluting the quality of education.
The issue, which has been a concern for many years, has resulted in innocent and often desperate Namibians spending their hard-earned money on qualifications that are not worth the paper they are printed on.
In an interview yesterday, NQA manager for marketing and communications Catherine Shipushu admitted that ill-practices in the field of tertiary education are of a serious nature and that the new NQA Bill that seeks to control bogus service providers is at an advanced stage of preparation for submission to Cabinet and tabling in parliament.
“The strengthening of the NQA Act [current] is under way through the office of the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, and the process is at an advanced stage. The new Act will bring about several transformational changes to the training and education landscape in Namibia,” she said.
NQA believes this will significantly reduce the number of unaccredited institutions and improve the quality of education offered, as only institutions that are found fit for the purpose will be allowed to enroll students in their programmes.
“Our primary concern is always the student and we have implemented various initiatives to ensure that the public is well informed about which institutions have been quality-assured. These include printing and distributing the list of all accredited institutions countrywide through newspapers, to all schools through the regional education directorate offices, at career expos and trade fairs, to our walk-in clients as well as on the NQA website,” Shipushu said.
Once the legislation is enacted, the NQA will have the full power to effectively shut down any institution that has not passed its quality assurance process.
Since most learners are about to apply for enrollment at various institutions, Shipushu cautioned them against studying at unaccredited ones, not only in Namibia but all over the world.
“While we acknowledge the critical need for education especially in today’s society where qualifications are equated to a better standard of life, we advise the public to guard against making regrettable choices by enrolling in institutions that are not of good standing,” she said.
Sadly, she says, some people are of the belief that all foreign-based institutions are of good standing– “but this cannot be further from the truth.”
She advised the public to first contact the NQA to verify the accreditation status of the institution, whether locally or abroad, before enrollment, adding that this is a free service that NQA provides to the public so that they can have peace of mind knowing that they will obtain quality qualifications which will be recognized either for employment purposes or further studies.
There are currently 43 NQA-accredited training providers operating in the country. The institutions of higher learning are directly in the domain of the NQA as the sector’s regulatory body.