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Higher education to boost VTCs

Mon, 18 May 2015 13:18
by Donald Matthys

The Minister  of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi expressed concern about the loopholes in the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) Act which allows institutions to offer bogus programmes.
This comes as the minister announced a N$492 686 000  budget for vocational education and training programmes as well as for operational and capital developments for the financial year 2015/16, simultaneously pleading for a revisit of the NQA Act 29 of 1996.
“It was observed that there is an increase in qualification fraud. Towards the end of last year, close to 200 qualifications were verified to be fraudulent by the NQA, in consultation with the affected institutions. In addition, around 23 people were arrested by the Namibian Police for possessing fake qualifications which they used to gain admission into institutions of higher learning as well as employment” Dr Kandjii- Murangi said.
The NQA Act does not explicitly make the accreditation of training institutions obligatory, and this creates a loophole for any person, institution or organisation to set up an institution and offer training programmes without being subjected to quality assurance processes, which results in the mushrooming of training providers offering unaccredited or bogus programmes. The Act will be revised to correct these loopholes.
During the budget speech motivation, the minister said vocational training is faced with critical challenges in human resources, which is why the VTCs have embarked on recruiting qualified staff to prevent the adverse impacts on the quality of training services rendered.
The National Training Fund Council of the Namibia Training Authority (NTA), through Industry Skills’ Committees (ISCs) developed 8 sector skills’ plans in response to the identified need in agriculture and forestry, manufacturing, automotive sales, arts and crafts, mining and quarrying, construction, electricity and gas, water supply and sanitation, transport, warehousing and logistics, fishing and maritime and financial and business services.
“A critical skills’ sector to be considered in the future is leadership, critical thinking and entrepreneurship. These plans identified occupations as well as career-related skills that are in demand across the different industry sectors aimed at strengthening and expanding the capacity of training centres” Dr Kandjii-Murangi said.
She added that these training programmes are supposed to ensure access, quality and equity in the delivery of technical and vocational skills required for productive work and accelerated social and economic development.
“I must stress that it is our ministry’s aim to make sure that technical institutions or vocational training centres are built and made operational in all the 14 regions of our country, but we are starting the constructions in conjunction with Governors and Regional Councils” she added.
The ministry is also exploring ways to strengthen and develop existing and new instructors’ training partnerships, locally and internationally.
Through the support of the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia and in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, the National Council of Higher Education has guiding tools for the ministry to manage the resources which should be allocated to each Public Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) within the budgetary constraints of the ministry.
This includes the data-collecting system named the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS), which will be used for all higher education institutions.
Also, the ministry through the NQA observed that the number of qualifications evaluated shows a year-on-year increase. Last year, 6 587 qualifications were evaluated, representing an increase of 12.3%, compared to the previous year.
The ministry’s fifth program, the Namibia National Commission for Unesco, is requesting Eleven Million Forty-Four Thousand Namibian Dollars for the financial year 2015/2016.  The relations between UNESCO and their member states are managed by the National Commission by providing advice on all UNESCO-related matters, which includes educaton. Strategic activities include technical support and Namibia’s representation on the UNESCO Executive board.
Namibia was selected as one of the three African countries piloting the new UNESCO teacher initiative in Africa. The initiative is funded by the Chinese government.