Malawi and unaccredited colleges
by Malawi's Daily Times
There is growing fear in the country’s education sector over an influx of dubious colleges offering courses examined by equally questionable foreign examination boards.
The mist surrounding the credibility of the colleges is further worsened by the fact that most of them are situated at wrong places not conducive for learning.
Experts warn that the private institutions, though helping government by accommodating students who fail to make it to the University of Malawi, threaten to further derail the country’s education standards.
Commenting on the private colleges, Founder and Chairman of Association of Business Executives (Abe) Lyndon Jones cautioned that UK based examination boards unregistered with Qualification Curriculum Authority (QCA) are not supposed to administer exams.
“Examinations boards have to be recognised and accredited by the government of UK through QCA.
QCA regulates, develop and modernize the curriculum, access examinations, and qualifications to build an excellent education and framework,” explained Jones.
Jones advised local colleges to crosscheck with QCA before embracing the examinations bodies.
Chairman of ShareWorld Open University Professor Jack Makhaza says it is high time Malawi set standards and become tough on the unregistered bodies.
“Some bodies are barred in some African countries.
Kenya, Namibia and South Africa are good examples.
It is high time we scrutinise them if we are to improve tertiary education in the country,” says Makhaza.
“At Share World we offer programmes that are QCA related. We verify with relevant authorities.”
He claims that there is a certain examination board that is being run by Kenyan nationals based in UK but they don’t offer their services to their home country, adding that they don’t have even an office in UK.
“When I met these people they took me to a certain restaurant where we had our discussions. They did not take me to their office despite that I did ask them to take me to their office but they insisted to have talks in a restaurant,” says Professor Makhaza.
Reacting to the issue of the accreditation of the colleges, Association of Business Managers and Administrators (ABMA) Senior Executive Alan Hadson recently insisted that it was unfair to discredit examination boards not registered with QCA.
In a statement published in The Daily Times recently, Hadson said ABMA had for six years worked with notable institutions in Malawi and other bodies across Africa.
“We have worked with TEVETA, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, and the British Council in Malawi in ensuring the correct delivery of our courses.
“We have had many students employed by your own government departments, all the major banks and large institutions because these institutions recognise the value of our qualifications in terms of how useful they are in the workplace,”
He, however, conceded, that ABMA was not fully registered with QCA.
“We are in the final stages of a QCA award ourselves. However, to say that we are not recognised as a result is both erroneous and false. We are legally registered as an independent Examinations Board in the UK.
“We are listed in ‘British Qualifications’, a reference book that holds all recognised and qualified examination boards in the UK.
“We also highly prize our internal quality assurance policies and are also awarded with the prestigious “Investors in People” recognition in the UK and are one of the only examination boards to have achieved this award.”
Share World’s director of studies Theodora Mapemba concurs with ABE’s chief that examinations bodies have to be accredited by QCA which regulates examinations.
University of Malawi Polytechnic Principal Charles Mataya says the local job market is flooded with certificates that are not accredited and recognised worldwide by higher learning institutions.
“There are a lot of vendors in education who offer unaccredited certificates and as University of Malawi we are encouraging employers not to employ students with dubious and unrecognized certificates,” says Mataya.
Mataya says such graduates can’t contribute to the development of the country effectively as they bring down the companies with their unprofessional skills.
“There is a demand for higher education. The market is there for our students but the only hindrance is the quality of certificates obtained,” says Mataya.
Vice President of Commonwealth of Learning Professor Asha Kanwar said there was need for quality education for a country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“Higher education provides economic strength as people are able to understand and transform on what is happening around the globe,” said Kanwar.
He warned that countries with dwindling education standards risked losing its citizens to other countries to seek quality education.