It is only after a school is registered with the National Accreditation Council that it could be considered for accreditation. Minister of Education Shaik Baksh emphasised this notion recently when he offered an update on the progress of his Ministry’s attempt to monitor the operation of private institutions.
The Minister had disclosed that private schools countrywide would be closely scrutinised by the Ministry of Education as part of efforts to ensure that they offer the right conditions needed for the proper delivery of education.
According to the Minister, his Ministry has an Accreditation Council, complete with Chairman and members who are very active. The council has already completed the registration of all post secondary institutions. He disclosed that the council is already putting together a list of those who have applied for registration.
However, registration, he said, does not automatically qualify an institution to become accredited.
It was only recently that former Education Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey, said that the main purpose of the Accreditation Council is to perform academic audits and assessment in order to bring some semblance or quality to the education process.
He noted that people tend to confuse the term accreditation with equivalence, adding that the task of any Accreditation Council also includes bringing equivalence to programmes. “Part of the work of the Accreditation Council or any accreditation body is to bring equivalence to say that a certain programme is equal to that programme or that you need to do certain things to get to a particular level.”
According to Dr Jeffrey if an individual undertakes a two-week programme he should be able to visit the Council and have the programme articulated so that it means something in terms of certification.
Currently the Ministry of Labour is working on a number of technical and vocation programmes in this regard, Dr Jeffrey added.
Since the passage of the Accreditation Bill in 2004 efforts have been made to work with the Caribbean, Dr Jeffrey added. “The essence of this is that it is important that if you are going to train people for the global economy they must be trained so that they can get a job anywhere”
But before any institution could be considered for accreditation, Minister Baksh has disclosed that it must be registered with the Council, adding that the accreditation process is a lengthy one indeed.
“We have been asking all private education institutions including all private Primary and Secondary schools countrywide to come forward and register. We have forms for that and we are now compiling a listing of all those who have come together and then we will put out another list.
“All those that have come forward to register we will highlight them by way of an advertisement then we will give the others another 30 days to register.”
Several private institutions, according to the Minister, are yet to be registered. He added that they must apply through their respective regions.
According to Baksh, it has come to the attention of the Ministry that there is a large number of private schools that are not registered thus the need to enforce the measures to ensure that they comply with the relevant rules and regulation.
“Within the Education Act Number 9 of 1976 I have powers to deal with these matters and I will invoke those powers if the schools do not come on board and register,” Baksh emphasised. Post Secondary institutions, which also fall under the purview of the National Accreditation Council, will also be required to become registered, the Minister said.
And according to him the Ministry will follow-up its registration request with visits to the various schools under scrutiny, a process, which he admitted, will take some time to be undertaken.
However, the Minister did note that the New Education Act, which should be tabled in Parliament before the end of this year, would deal with the situation in a more systematic way. “This Act will be coming into place, I am hoping by early next year, as I am hoping to table it in parliament by the end of the year.”
A final draft of the new Act has been completed and it has been sent to the Attorney General Chambers for finalisation. It will soon be taken to Cabinet and thence to Parliament, according to Minister Baksh.
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