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‘Stakeholder talks on BQA Act reveal grey areas’

Stakeholders have expressed concern that the new Botswana Qualifications Authority(BQA) Act does not give both institutions and BQA sufficient time to comply with the regulatory framework.

“The earlier mandate for BQA was to address private tertiary institutions. It has now being widened to include the education process from cradle to the grave like TVET, general education and pre primary education. Everyone has to get it done before 31 December but it does not appear BQA has the requisite capacity,” observed Ravi Srinivasan, Pro Vice Chancellor – Internationalisation and Communications for Botho University.

He said, “The new regulations have merged the process of application and registration. Previously the process was separated allowing the institution to enable teachers to teach and measure their performance before registration was embarked upon.”

A person who wishes to be registered and accredited as an assessor or moderator shall apply to the Authority for registration and accreditation.

 An application made under sub-regulation (1) shall be in Form A as set out in the Schedule and be accompanied by a non-refundable fee as set out in the Fees Regulations.

The Authority may, in writing, require an applicant to provide such further information as the Authority may consider relevant to the application.

 

Where the Authority is satisfied that an applicant meets the requirements set out in these Regulations for registration and accreditation as an assessor or moderator it shall register and accredit that person for a defined scope of assessment or moderation services.

The Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) is a parastatal organisation under the Ministry of Tertiary Education Research Science and Technology established by the Botswana Qualifications Authority Act, No 24 of 2013, to:

•       To provide for and maintain the National Credit and Qualifications Framework.

•       To coordinate the education, training and skills development quality assurance system, from early childhood to tertiary level (Lifelong learning).

 

BQA officials maintain the benefits of new system include coordination by a common quality assurance platform, improve coordination,  improve relevance – dialogue between industry through HRDC and supply ( Education and training), promote international competitiveness and improve quality of education and training.

“The new Act Promotes learner protection – Learner Protection Policy, Learner registration for  credit accumulation and transfer, Recognition of Prior Learning- Policy being developed and  Involvement of learners in governance,” revealed Abel Modungwa, Chief Executive Officer.

Section 25(1) of the Tertiary Education Act,1999 provides that any private tertiary institution being a holder of a certificate of registration issued in accordance with this Act, may apply to the Council for accreditation provided that the certificate i) has been held for at least three years or for such other period as the Council may in a particular case determine; and

b) has not been suspended or revoked; and

c) The most recent assessment of the tertiary institution in accordance with section 24(1) (b) indicate that Council is satisfied with the progress so far made in the design , implementation or maintenance of an academic and administrative system acceptable in terms of the institutional standards prescribed under this Act and relevant to the needs of tertiary education in Botswana.

This Section, together with the entire Act, was repealed by the HRDC Act (Section 37, HRDC Act)

Section 38(1) of the HRDC Act provides that-

“Any subsidiary legislation made under the repealed Act, and in force immediately prior to the coming into operation of this Act shall in so far as such legislation is consistent with the provisions of this Act, continue in force as if made under this Act”.

A Private institution was required to apply for accreditation of any programme it intended to offer, provided the programme was offered for at least one academic year before the application. Sub-regulation 2 the Council was empowered to waive the requirement to run the programme for at least one academic year before it could be accredited in the national interest.

Although the Regulation has been repealed, anything duly and lawfully done under Regulation prior to gazettement of the new Regulations will remain legally valid. Rights accrued or obligations incurred before repeal of the Regulation are enforceable, particularly during the transition period.

It is envisaged that the affected ETP would have complied with the new requirements.

Section 4(2) Subsections (l) and (m) of the BQA Act  provides that the Authority shall-

 (l) register and accredit education and training providers, assessors, awarding bodies and moderators;

(m) accredit learning programmes.

The word “shall” means it is mandatory that the above functions be carried out by the Authority and it does not have a discretion in executing them. All education and training providers must comply with the quality assurance system as determined by the Authority

 

“The intention of the Minister was that the above regulations be repealed and for new criteria to be implemented from the date of commencement of the new Regulations,” said Kennedy Pheko, BQA Board Secretary.

He said, “Regulation 4 read with BQA Act, it can be asserted that the Regulations do not revoke or take away what Section 33(1) gave to ETP's. ETP's have been afforded a grace period to comply or align their operations with the new regulations. Compliance with the new Regulations by ETPs during the transitional period will depend to the extent to which there is any variance between the new and the old criteria for registration and accreditation of ETPs including the accreditation of learning programmes.”

Applications submitted prior to the new Regulations do not have to be resubmitted and existing licences are still in force.  A grace period has been put in place as a transitional measure. ETPs have a legal obligation to comply and those ETPs that do not comply with the Regulations will face the inevitable possibility of the revocation of their licenses.

Regulation 14(1) of the Botswana Qualifications Authority(Accreditation of Learning Programmes) Regulations, 2016 provides that an education and training shall put arrangements in place for the protection of enrolled learners, who has begun but not completed the learning programme, where the provider ceases to provide the learning programme for any reason.

 The Authority has developed  criteria and guidelines which an ETP must put in place to protect the enrolled learners as prescribed by the Regulations.

 

•       All applications in the Authority’s possession, received before the publication of the new Regulations will be considered and finalised in terms of the old Regulations. This will be applicable only during the transitional period.

•       New applications will be considered in accordance with the new Regulations.

•       The Authority together to determine variance between the old and the new Regulations for each ETP on a case by case basis.

•       The Authority to develop Criteria & Guidelines on how existing ETPs should comply during the transitional period.

“Higher education is important and critical for our economic advancement and hence the need for a robust regulatory system to ensure delivery of quality higher education,” said Dr Racious Moatshe, Chief Executive Officer of Business Botswana(BB).

 

He said, “In this pursuit, BQA serves as that critical regulatory organ for the delivery of quality and fit for purpose education and this can only be best achieved through collective efforts with the private sector, institutions, student representation and networks such as Education Training Providers(ETYP’s).”

 

A person wishing to be registered and accredited as assessor or moderator has to apply to the Authority for registration and accreditation.

 

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