HEA Challenges Programme Accreditation Evaluators to be Champions of Quality Assurance

The Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) Acting Director General, Dr. Vitalicy Chifwepa, has challenged the Programme Accreditation Evaluators the Authority uses to accredit Learning Programmes (LPs) from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to champion quality assurance in Zambia.

Speaking during the opening of the Orientation Workshop for Programme Accreditation Evaluators which was held last Friday at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Dr. Chifwepa stated that the Programme Accreditation Evaluators should champion quality assurance through their expertise and experience rather than the institutions or HEIs at which they work.

“We expect you to be champions of quality assurance with respect to LPs that is why we are a bit ‘shy’ to talk about you as members of your respective institutions because we consider you as having expertise and experience in your various areas of study and, as such, you are expected to go to institutions other than where you work and help us look at the LPs on behalf of the Zambian Government,” he said.

The Acting Director General further stated that by looking at the LPs, the Programme Accreditation Evaluators will be able to certify that the LPs qualify for accreditation in that these LPs lead to national qualifications in their particular area of study.

“We will call upon you to help us assess the standards of accreditation as well, for example, if we look at an LP like Geology, you should be able to ascertain if it should be taught the way it was taught in 1975 or if there are new areas that need to be incorporated today that are relevant to the LP,” Dr. Chifwepa stated, adding that the nature of accreditation standards is that they are dynamic.

With 1,256 LPs already submitted for accreditation to the Authority, and many more estimated still to be submitted, Dr. Chifwepa noted that HEA cannot have all the expertise inhouse to evaluate these LPs, thus, the Authority works with a committee of experts drawn from academic institutions and industry who are selected solely on the basis of their expertise and experience.

For the last week’s workshop, experts in the following fields, amongst others, were oriented: Psychology, Medical Diagnostic Radiography, Insurance and Pension Management, Applied Linguistics, Physiotherapy, Geology, Metallurgy, Pathology, Medicine and Surgery, and, Civil and Mechanical Engineering.

The Acting Director General emphasised that the Programme Accreditation Evaluators needed to embody one of HEA’s core values of integrity in order for them to effectively execute their duties as they visit HEIs that they might have come across in their respective professional careers.