Jul 30, 2017 News
– to help improve quality of programmes offered at post-secondary and tertiary institutions
The finishing touches are currently being applied to a National Qualifications and Credit Framework [NQCF] for Guyana. This inaugural undertaking for Guyana is one that will make its accreditation efforts comparable to what obtains across the Region and even further afield.
The NQCF, which is designed to be implemented by the National Accreditation Council [NAC], is essentially an instrument that will allow both private and public businesses, educational institutions and individuals to compare qualifications and what is required to move from one level to another within and across occupations, industrial sectors and across academic and vocational fields or vice versa.
Helping Guyana to complete this crucial Framework are officials from the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago [ACTT], its Director, Michael Bradshaw, and Accreditation Officer, Ms. Sherma Joseph.
According to Bradshaw, the move towards the implementation of qualifications frameworks, across the Region, is one that was initially prompted by CARICOM in order to facilitate the free movement of people.
Bradshaw, who is the lead Consultant in the local framework preparations efforts, said, too, that “one of the things the Framework does is that it connects institutions with regards to the qualifications that they offer in the various [CARICOM] Member States.”
He explained that if the University of Guyana, for instance, offers a similar programme to what is offered by the University of the West Indies or another institution in another Member State, the qualification framework would serve to express the comparability of the different qualifications to show that they contain similar knowledge, skills and competences.
“These three characteristics [knowledge, skills and competences] are what define the qualification. What it is saying is that a degree offered at the University of Guyana and the University of the West Indies or other universities in the Caribbean are comparable,” Bradshaw explained.
Moreover, the qualification framework will help to give an individual the sense of mobility so that they can move comfortably from Guyana to Trinidad and even elsewhere in the Caribbean.
But the foregoing was merely an initial goal of the qualification framework.
According to Bradshaw, with the advent of higher education and training becoming internationalised, even through cross border education, there is immense need for the implementation of a quality framework.
With cross border education in play, institutions from different parts of the world now have the capacity to offer education and training to students anywhere in the world. This, according to Bradshaw, can be done either through direct contact, or even through the online offering of programmes.
“This brings into play the importance of qualification framework in that what it does would ensure that the students, wherever they are, that the programme that they have signed up for is comparable to what is taking place in their country or the country of origin of the qualification,” said Bradshaw.
He added, “We can no longer have the perception that a degree that is perhaps completed in the United Kingdom may not be relevant to Guyana or relevant to Trinidad and Tobago or for that matter the United States.”
Premised on the work of one of the most renowned researchers on qualification [Tuck R.(2007)], the qualifications and credit framework used in the Caribbean caters to the development of qualifications, the classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies. But according to Bradshaw, the added component of life skills has been recognised as a need for the Region.
This is necessary, Bradshaw said, since employers have over time said that institutions have been churning out graduates who are not work-ready. “They do not have that relevant employability skills…they’re bright, they have knowledge and content; they could work with their hands, they do all kinds of things but when they come into the job they can’t fit in,” Bradshaw noted. He pointed out that while qualifications may qualify an individual to secure a job, they are still required to learn things on the actual worksite but some people lack this ability.
“Employers are saying we don’t have the money or the time to train, we want you all to help us…so this brings in another facet of qualifications. Qualifications should be a partnership with institutions and employers; this is a very, very important factor, so that employers can have an input into what they want,” Bradshaw asserted.
He added, “We want to know that when institutions graduate students after two years, three years, four or five years, that these graduates that they send out, are work ready. The qualification framework speaks to that relationship between the institutions, the external stakeholders and [in the Guyana case], the National Accreditation Council.”
For a protracted period ACTT has been lending to support to NAC. The most recent meeting was this past week during which Bradshaw and Joseph helped the local NAC officials to fine-tune the local framework. Among the local NAC team in attendance were: Accreditation Officer, Simone Gonsalves; Suelle Findlay-Williams, Communication Specialist, and Ryan Serieux, Research Officer/ Acting Assessment Officer.
It is the view of the NAC that with the qualification and credit framework in place, it will influence Guyana’s education system and contribute to the improvement of the quality of education and training as well as to contribute to national goals such as lifelong learning, recognition of prior learning and the inculcation of value systems.
The work of the NAC entails the registration of post secondary and tertiary institutions. It is expected that the qualification framework will monitor closely the operations of these institutions. There are currently about 14 institutions registered by the NAC. But there are even more that are operational in Guyana. Serieux however noted that institutions are only recognised when they are registered. He noted too that NAC has also been recognising some foreign awarded institutions and bodies.
But ahead of being registered and recognised, the Assessment Officer said that there is a quality assurance process. “There are a number of criteria that we look for mainly governance, the relevance for the local economy and it must be equivalent to the programme offered elsewhere,” said Serieux.
He noted though that while institutions are legally required to be registered ahead of offering programmes, the onus is however on individuals to ensure that they only pursue programmes at registered institutions in order to safeguard themselves.
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