Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 17, 2014 (SKNIS): The St. Kitts and Nevis Accreditation Board held a one day sensitization seminar for key stakeholders on Monday (June 16) which focused on ways to can ensure the delivery of high quality education to students.
Participants included education officials, post-secondary and tertiary level institutions, professional associations and employers.
The objectives were to sensitize key stakeholders to quality assurance and accreditation frameworks and national, regional and international issues; to promote a deeper understanding of the benefits of quality assurance and accreditation systems in order to secure buy-in and facilitate ownership of the process by major key stakeholders; to serve to increase awareness of the role and functions of the National Accreditation Body and to provide a forum for meaningful discussion of the critical needs of the St. Kitts and Nevis tertiary education sector with regard to quality assurance.
Minister of Education the Hon. Nigel Carty stated that the workshop was “critically important” for the stakeholders as it is vital that there are institutions that deliver high quality education to students whether they are local or international students.The Minister stated that persons should appreciate the value of accreditation as it is really about having an essential evaluation of our education institutions.
“The focus is to assess the readiness of the institutions to engage in higher education or to assess the achievement with respect to a number of important objectives which would have been set by both the Accreditation Board and the institutions themselves,” he stated. “It’s important for us to recognise that these standards, these principles derive from regional and international standards in addition to our own local considerations.”
All of the Accreditation Board members would either have or would be receiving shortly, training from a regional institution to ensure that they have maximum readiness to discharge their duties as members of the board.
Minister Carty explained that another reason for ensuring that higher education is available is that not only has the global economy changed but also the local economy. This forces persons to acquire new skills and seek to get the edge to find work that would be able to sustain them and their family.
“We are very pleased that we have been able to cultivate in St. Kitts and Nevis that important higher education sector and particularly the offshore education subsector which accounts for about 12 percent of GDP,” the Education Minister noted. “That is significant. A subsector or sector representing 12 percent of GDP is critically important.”
The Minister also noted that the higher education sector and the offshore education sector contribute to a lot of the economic activity that takes place in St. Kitts and Nevis. So there is a need to “safeguard and improve on our quality and the accreditation board is responsible for that quality assurance.”
“They ensure that the students who come here are well prepared because that is one very important part of quality assurance,” he said. “The students must meet the prerequisites, must have the entry requirements to enroll in the courses which they desire to enroll but we must also ensure that the schools operate by very high standards that they achieve the objectives that they set for themselves. Thus we have ongoing accreditation assessment, which ensures not only do we have entry requirements met by schools that desire to operate in the Federation but that quality is maintained throughout the years of the operation of the institution.”
The topics covered in the workshop included an Overview of Quality Assurance and Accreditation, the Roles and Functions of External Quality Assurance Agencies, The Accreditation Process, Cross-border Quality Assurance and Academic Fraud and The Problem of Diploma Mills.