The debate about continuing decline in quality of education caused by questionable courses offered by some tertiary institutions took a new twist in Parliament this week with MPs pushing for closure of quality compromising schools such as DDT College of Medicine.
It has been revealed that four of degree courses in health offered by the college being Bachelor of Doctor Assistance, Bachelor of Pharmacy, Bachelor of Physiotherapy and Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science are all not accredited. Mosieraele Goya, the Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education found himself between a rock and hard place when it emerged that the health courses offered by DDT College of Medicine, are not accredited by Botswana Health Professions Council (BHPC).
The revelation came, when Goya was asked by Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkaigwa to upraise Parliament on the status of DDT College regarding accreditation of courses by BHPC. Sparking infuriation from some of the MPs, Goya indicated that BQA approved the college's health related degrees without them being subjected to the Botswana Health Professions Council for further evaluation.
Nkaigwa expressed concern on the continuous negligence by government when monitoring some of universities or colleges who compromises the quality of education such as DDT. He blasted the ministry for not taking stern action against the college indicating that it is not for the first time the college's quality of courses is being scrutinized in parliament calling for the closure of the college. Nkaigwa held that all local institutions of high learning must be inspected so as to ensure their adherence to set standards or rules by regulatory bodies as government spends millions of Pulas on them. "Regulatory bodies and the ministry responsible for tertiary education must be held accountable on a serious note. I can tell there is a lot out there in terms of fake universities. Some of these institutions continue to milk money from the government purse while they are offering fraudulent qualifications, close them now," decried Nkaigwa.
For his part, Mogoditshane legislator Sedirwa Kgoroba said if BHPC doesn't recognise the quality of DDT's health degrees then the courses should be terminated immediately. He argued that offering unaccredited programmes highly comprises the level of education as this means that the graduates of such universities have no concrete qualifications. Kgoroba therefore said Goya's ministry and Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) should declare DDT College of Medicine a bogus institution due to its continuous controversy over accreditation of courses.
Nkaigwa further observed that the mushrooming privately owned tertiary education providers tends to reproduce the programmes that are already offered by public institutions, with theirs not up to standard. He therefore said without severe penalties, unscrupulous education and training providers will continue to cheat the system at the expense of the future of students while they laugh all the way to the bank.
Nkaigwa also put on board the continuous proliferations of cheating lecturers who fake qualifications in order to acquire jobs as another source of distress for the local tertiary education that is already plunged into disastrous conditions.
Meanwhile, Goya said screws will be tightened in ensuring the proper adherence to regulations by all tertiary education providers adding that new BQA framework envisions at monitoring of bogus institutions, lecturers.
What future hold for graduates?
As the college is expected to release its first cohort of a total of 102 graduates under health programmes later this year, Nkaigwa has also pushed Goya to share insights on the employability ability of the graduates. He wanted to know whether the graduates will be employed by both government and private sector institutions without a professional accreditation and recognition by BHPC currently.
Goya responded that the students for now could not be employed because they will graduate before the learning programmes achieve accreditation under Botswana Health Professionals Council. He noted that his ministry through BQA has engaged Botswana Health Professionals Council to fast track processing of accreditation of DDT College programmes.