Just under a decade ago, feeling the high cost of foreign sponsored students, the Botswana government took a decision to encourage and accredit local tertiary education institutions to absorb the high number of learners for post secondary education.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development then established the Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) to ensure regulation and accreditation is done correctly. But instead of seeing smooth processes in place, the country has seen a high rise in tertiary students protests over a range of issues, including the poor quality of education, unaccredited courses and trainers, living allowances and poor quality of food. In a question and answer session, this is what BQA shared with Mmegi.
To what degree are private institutions complying with BQA standards?
They are generally compliant with random cases of non-compliance.
How well resourced are institutions in terms of laboratories, libraries and qualified lecturers?
There are minimum requirements at registration and all these institutions have met these.
Some institutions have converted from colleges to universities, what role did you play in this move?
These institutions applied to BQA. BQA assessed the application and inspected the facilities to ensure standards are met. The major resources for becoming a university are physical structures, faculties, departments, programmes of studies, staffing, finances and capacity to sustain the requisite quality that goes with being a university.
What is the process of this conversion from college to university?
The institution applies and gives evidences both documentary and physical (facilities, staffing etc.) that demonstrate that the institution has adequate resources that could sustain its university status. After the Desktop review, preliminary validation the application is sent out to experts either in Botswana or outside the country to assess suitability of the institution to be granted the university status. Once these have validated the institution and compiled a report the application is sent to management of BQA to deliberate on the application to make a recommendation to the Quality Assurance Committee of the Board. The Committee deliberates on the application. If weaknesses are evident, the application is returned to Management to address the weaknesses. Management then directs the institution to address the identified gaps.
Once these weaknesses have been addressed, the application is sent back to the Committee of the Board. When it is found to have met all the requirements, it is recommended to the Board for approval where similar deliberations take place. The Board has the authority to either return the application to Management for improvements, reject the application or approve.
What are the requirements for upgrading from a college to a University in terms of staff qualification, infrastructure and resources?
The standard procedure is to qualify to teach in a tertiary institution, whether a college or university, the lecturer must have a qualification higher than the students he is supposed to teach. For example, to teach Diploma students, the lecturer must have at least a Bachelor’s Degree or a higher qualification.
Regarding infrastructural development and other resources, the applicant institution uses the Norms and Standards from BQA to ensure compliance with requirements.
Are there any institutions or courses that have lost their accreditation? Why?
So far, two institutions.
As BQA what are your long term plans for the tertiary education sector in Botswana?
To improve the quality of education and training, align learning programmes to the National Credit and Qualifications Framework and ensure that graduates from our system are job ready,
What is the nature of your involvement with the education hub project?
BQA meets and discusses with the Education Hub issues that are on its mandate- develop and maintain a National Credit and Qualifications Framework, register and validate qualifications and part qualifications, set teaching and learning standards for training providers, monitor, inspect and audit institutions register and accredit education and training providers, design procedure for protection of learners amongst others to ensure that the Hub is informed enough to ‘sell’ The Botswana Education and Training System in all its local and international interactions. BQA attends most of the Hub’s Expos internationally.
To what extent are our institutions training for the needs of the market?
The National Human Resource Development Strategy (2009-2022) and the National Development Plan are our key guiding documents. In addition, BQA receives advice from HRDC, Ministries of Education & Skills development and Finance & Development Planning. BQA also conduct research and innovation strategies to help keep the focus on market needs. Institutions are also required to carry out market research prior submission for registration and accreditation.
There is little collaboration or involvement of different industries in the tertiary education sector. What is the reason behind this?
The tertiary education sector engages with industry and the broader community in extensive consultations to identify the market needs so that our strategy is shaped in that direction. The rationalised mandates of Human Resource Development Council and BQA will further enhance this collaboration by ensuring that there is dialogue between demand (industry) and supply (training and education providers). The Human Resource Development Plans will inform training providers, through BQA of the industry’s skills needs.
Is there any role you are playing in facilitating this?
The BQA strategic plan emphasised the need for a tripartite partnership between the HRDC, BQA and the Botswana Examinations Council. These three organisations are going to sign Memoranda of Understanding, implement and monitor the plans that would be developed to operationalise the MoUs.
Please share with us the expectations you have on the following institutions and how much they have accomplished in terms of satisfying BQA requirements (Staff qualifications and accreditation, infrastructure, courses and resources): Limkokwing University of Creative Technology; ABM University College; Botho University, Boitekanelo College; GIPS; New Era College; and GUC.
These, like all other institutions, are expected to comply at all times with the BQA requirements. Please note that BQA monitors and audits all accredited education and training providers in the country to ensure continued compliance with the provisions of the BQA Act, 2013 through scheduled and unscheduled audits. Unscheduled audits are carried out when a complaint has been raised against the training provider. In the course of these audits instances of noncompliance can be detected and providers instructed to address them within specified periods failing which the Authority can suspend, withdraw or revoke in whole or in part the accreditation granted to the provider.