Education and training institutions across Barbados will have to comply with specific standards when the national qualification framework is set up within the next year to address some existing weaknesses.
The framework forms the second pillar of the Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy which is being funded by the European Union.
The national qualifications framework is a mechanism by which national qualification will be recognized. It will require learning institutions to clearly outline various descriptions and levels of those qualifications.
During a media conference today at the Baobab Tower, Valda Alleyne, chairperson for the committee set up to oversee the process, explained that one of the main objectives was to allow Barbadians to use their qualifications to obtain employment regionally and internationally. It is hoped that it would also encourage continuous learning.
Alleyne, who is also the executive director of the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC), said the task, which was being carried out in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour and other stakeholders, was at the design and development stage.
A group of consultants are currently carrying out consultancy work and the framework is expected to be ready by the middle of 2015. A national register is to be established a year later.
“The national qualification framework will mean that the training provider will have to be registered in order for their qualifications to be placed on the national qualification register,” explained Alleyne.
The framework will require training providers to outline certain specifics including enrolment numbers, a written mission statement, expected outputs at the learning and occupational levels, as well as clear definition of the various qualifications.
The framework will also address the issue of quality assurance.
“That is where the national quality framework will be critical in determining what is a Bachelor’s degree, what is a certificate, what is an Associate degree and what it means. It will be critical for all those qualifications to be described . . . . All of those requirements will be needed in terms of determining that qualification. And so, the providers must be registered . . . so the quality framework will set the descriptors,” said Alleyne.
She said the framework would also address matters relating to the approval process.
“That is also another quality assurance process where providers, before they deliver a new prgramme to the public, are expected to submit an application indicating the programme they will be offering, the level, the specifications of that programme in terms of the qualification to be award,” Alleyne added.
“It will be grounded in law. It will be legally grounded so that persons are forced . . . to comply.
“In Barbados you may find that persons go to a provider and pay their fees and they do not even get a leaflet saying what are the [expected] learning outcomes. Certainly the national qualification framework will address that… what are the learning outcomes, what you are expected to attain at the end of the day, what is the award, what the certificate is going to look like, who will award it, the awarding body. All of that is important. So there is room for improvement and we believe that the providers will get there,” she added.