Tertiary educational providers across Barbados seeing benefits of New Qualifications
Tertiary Education and training providers in Barbados, whether small or large, are being encouraged by their peers to get on board when the new qualifications framework that recognizes all forms of learning in Barbados is rolled out next year.
The Barbados Qualifications and Credit Framework (BQCF) is an ambitious initiative falling under the country’s Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy. It aims to ensure that formal, informal and non-formal learning that people living in Barbados gain is certified and recognised, not just here but overseas.
A workshop was hosted recently by the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC), which is managing the Framework, for training and education providers to review the guidelines for implementing the BQCF. There, the educational providers gained first-hand knowledge on the regulatory requirements that will have to be met for recognition of their qualifications on applying for Registration.
Providers seeking Registration will have to provide the Council with evidence of meeting a set of criteria related to: governance and mission, admission policies, educational programmes, staffing and professional development, learner assessment and certification, learner support services, physical plant and equipment, learning and information services, laboratory/workshop facilities, finances, and institutional plan.
Regarding the benefits of the BQCF, Henderson Thompson, Director of the Barbados Vocational Training Board said that it was critical for his organisation. “We look after competency-based training for trainees and apprentices seeking vocational jobs so having this Framework and knowing where their qualifications would be pitched is critical. They would want to know how they can progress through the whole system.”
He added that the Framework would also facilitate working with quality standards. With regards to benefits for the wider society Mr. Thompson noted, “We’ll have a cadre of well-trained people to work locally, regionally and internationally and we can benchmark our standards with international standards.”
Barbadians interested in acquiring knowledge
Dr. Jeanese Badenock, Lecturer at The University of the West Indies (UWI) and Chair of the Re-Accreditation and Quality Assurance committee at the Cave Hill Campus also spoke about the benefits of the Framework. “The wider population want to be assured that the qualifications in which they are investing time and money are of value and have currency. The Framework will provide these types of checks and balances so that they would know that a particular qualification is worth pursuing because it is of value.”
Regarding the value of lifelong learning, Dr. Badenock said that Barbadians were seen as highly educated. “Beyond those who have acquired formal qualifications, there are more folks that are just interested in acquiring knowledge for their own edification. Because we live in an age where you can access information at your fingertips through podcasts and YouTube channels, I think that this type of conversation is timely. For people who are interested in learning on a whole, we should encourage them to see acquired knowledge and learning as being of value and a gateway to taking them into a more formal setting.”
Speaking about education and training providers who may contemplate how to meet the registration requirements, Dr. Badenock said that their effort and investment would reap benefits. “Generally, all of the requirements of the accreditation process that UWI has been through has reaped benefits for us. We are now ranked a lot higher in international surveys and so there are significant benefits that the provider would be awarded as a result of following the regulations and requirements of the Framework. It will be an investment of time and effort but the rewards should outweigh those.”
The lecturer also suggested liaising for assistance from those providers who would have gone through the accreditation process and may have a more structured quality assurance mechanism in place.
Learners want to know qualifications are accredited
Andrea Walke, Senior Management Counsellor responsible for Quality Assurance, Research and Information Technology at the Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity (BIMAP), agreed. Acknowledging that meeting the requirements of the framework would require an investment of time and effort, she noted that it would be “learner centred and that those learners were becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the benefits of accredited qualifications and wanted to know that qualifications were accredited before they decided to invest time and money in training.”
With regards to the benefits of the Framework to employers, Ms. Walke noted: “People being employed will have valid qualifications based on a standard. As a result, employers will know that their employees can function in the role for which they were hired.”
And for training providers such as BIMAP, she said, “The Framework will help organisations in being able to say that their qualifications are valid and fit for purpose.”
Vallis Jemmott, Managing Director of Notes of Praise said, “The Framework will benefit our students because they will know that they’ll be receiving a quality education. Another benefit is that their course will become transferable to other institutions in the event that they want to further their studies.”
Acknowledging that for his school and other small businesses meeting the requirements of the Framework would be a “massive task“, Mr. Jemmott offered encouragement. “There will be assistance so businesses won’t be doing this all on their own. The overall goal is to improve the quality of education in Barbados. It is difficult, but achievable.”
Once the Framework is rolled-out, a Barbados Qualifications Register will list online those tertiary educational providers that offer recognised qualifications.