Lahja Nashuuta Windhoek-Former prime minister Nahas Angula says the shortage of public institutions of higher learning as well as appropriate programmes required for the job market have created room for the mushrooming of private tertiary institutions across the country. More educational institutions continue to pop up across the country on an annual basis, of which the majority are owned by foreign nationals and housed in residential properties. Recently, the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) granted accreditation to NamWater’s Human Resource Development Centre, Welwitschia Health Training Centre and Kambaku Lodge and Safaris CC, while the Institute of Information Technology (IIT) and AIMS were re-accredited and authorised to expand their scope of programmes and sites. This brings the number of accredited private institutions in the country to 44. In an interview with New Era, Angula noted there is nothing wrong with having many private institutions of higher learning in the country, as such institutions have helped to fill the gap by serving as a bridge between secondary school level and beyond. The former minister of education however emphasised that the quality of education that these institutions offer should be regulated to maintain standards. “The mushrooming of institutions of higher learning is an indication that there is a demand for such educational entities. And unlike government institutions, private institutions enrol a large number of young people,” he said. Angula, who served as the first Namibian minister of education, sports and culture from 1990-1995, said it is the government’s mandate to ensure that only training institutions with the necessary credentials are allowed to operate and to cut down on the operations of illegal and bogus institutions. “The affordability of the programmes on offer at institutions also needs to be regulated. This is key to helping avoid institutions going belly-up – wasting students’ money and leaving them stranded mid-study,” he said. He further called for the expansion of public institutions of higher learning and vocational training centres, to ensure that the quality of graduates is not compromised. “The cross-cutting issue here is the capacity for government to provide the public with enough space and a variety of relevant training programmes that meet the needs of the job market. If the government does not have that capacity then the private sector will come in to fill the gap,” he said. The licensing of private training institutions lies with the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA). The NQA is a statutory body, regulated in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Act No 29 of 1996. Its marketing manager, Catherine Shipushu, said the organisation is living up to its mandate. However, she strongly cautioned prospective students not to fall into a trap by studying at unaccredited institutions at home or abroad. “Studying at unaccredited institutions has very serious consequences for students. Due to the fact that these institutions are not quality assured, it is impossible to validate the quality of qualifications and thus the employability of graduates from such institutions,” she said in an email response. Shipushu said qualifications obtained at unaccredited institutions in Namibia or elsewhere in the world are not recognised as legal and therefore hold no value. In granting accreditation, NQA considers various requirements including that the institution employs appropriately qualified staff, has designed relevant courses and study materials and provides appropriate facilities and resources for students. “The final decision is made after due consideration by the NQA Council which comprises high level representation of the government, professional bodies, training providers and lobby groups,” Shipushu explained.
New Era Reporter
2018-01-31 09:19:39 9 months ago