- BQA operates without substantive executive management
- Currently without Board Chairman
- 116 applications for accreditation have not been processed
- Transition from BOTA failing to take off since 2015
Students from tertiary institutions across the country continue to boycott classes because they are being taught subjects and courses that are not fully accredited by the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA). The latest institutions to have been affected are the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), which has been closed indefinitely after students boycotted classes, and the Gaborone Institute for Professional Studies (GIPS) whose students in the Faculty of Engineering have currently staged a classroom boycott citing among their grievances courses that have not been accredited. Students at the Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) have also raised similar concerns while students at Botho University are said to be planning classroom boycotts also on issues of course accreditation.
Investigations by this publication have however discovered that the institutions are not solely responsible for the lack of accreditation, as the accrediting body BQA, has failed to keep up with the demands of local institutions when it comes to accreditation.
Since January 2018, BQA has been running without substantive executive management as almost all executive positions are currently engaged on an acting capacity. Six strategic positions of Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Director Quality Assurance, Director National Credit and Qualifications Framework, Director Business Development and Internal Auditor are currently filled on acting appointments with no substantive appointments being envisaged in the foreseeable future. In addition, the position of Board Chairman has not been filled since the expiry of former Board Chairman Charles Siwawa’s tenure.
The current acting executive management has been blamed by tertiary institutions for stalling progress for the migration from the old qualifications accreditation to the new system that was adopted when the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA) and Tertiary Education Council (TEC) transformed into Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) in 2015. Investigations have revealed that BQA has a ‘Catalogue of Issues’ where all pending matters related to accreditation are registered but, due to lack of internal structures the applications and concerns continue to remain unattended as management is unable to finalise and address them.
The acting chief executive officer Selebo Auma Jobe is alleged to be frequently out of the country attending workshops and conferences to the detriment of her role as the person who is mandated to give direction to her subordinates.
Institutions have also complained that while they pay large amounts of money for services at BQA, their applications and appeals are never attended to on time as appeals can go for nine months without being resolved.
BQA Communications and Public Relations Manager Selwana Pilatwe-Koppenhaver told this publication in her response to our questions that the transition is at registration and accreditation of Education and Training Providers (ETP) and that once an ETP has registered and is accredited under the new system it then processes qualifications (if it’s self –awarding) for registration on the National Credit and Qualifications Framework (NCQF) and then the learning programmes (courses). The exercise, according to Pilatwe-Koppenhaver, is expected to go on until December 2022. She revealed that since the Authority started implementing its Regulations in January 2017, it has received 215 applications for registrations and accreditations (TVET and HE) and has processed and concluded 99 of these.
Replying to the allegation that BQA is unable to impose and fulfil its oversight mandate as it fails to take action against wayward institutions, Pilatwe-Koppenhaver explained that institutions are monitored and audited at stipulated intervals to ensure continued compliance. In instances where learners raise complaints against providers, BQA carries out investigations, he revealed and in instances where non-compliance is found to exist the Education and Training Provider is given a period to ensure compliance. Pilatwe-Koppenhaver said if the provider fails to become complaint BQA may revoked in part (the specified learning programme) or wholly (the provider).
Pilatwe-Koppenhaver confirmed as an example that the IAS aviation school has been prohibited from enrolling students due to non-compliance of qualifications regulations.
On why the National Brigades have not enrolled students for this year, Pilatwe-Koppenhaver put the blame squarely on the Brigades. ‘‘Brigades like all other providers are expected by law to conform to the requirements of the BQA Act. BQA is yet to receive applications for registration and accreditation of some brigades’’, she pointed out.