In pursuit of quality in higher education, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), has developed Higher Education Quality Assurance Systems (HEQAS), to be used across all higher education institutions in Malawi.
After holding two consultative workshops towards development of the same, the Council is hopeful that the HEQAS will be finalized by end of this year.
After the first workshop in September 2019 in Blantyre, the last one was held recently in Mangochi where participants included representatives from public and private higher education institutions, professional and regulatory bodies, Ministries of Education and Labour among others.
Speaking at the second consultative workshop in Mangochi, NCHE CEO Dr. Ignasio Jimu highlighted the need for quality in higher education institutions which is expected by students, employers and the world at large and hence the development of the (HEQAS.) in Malawi.
“What we are trying to do is cultivate a culture of quality in our higher learning institutions. Our vision as NCHE is ‘towards a culture of quality and excellence in higher education’ and the HEQAS will assist in verifying whether academic standards are good, are being achieved and maintained in line with predefined acceptable standards,” he explained.
Speaking on behalf of Ministry of Education, Chief Education Officer Mrs. Rose Kalizang’oma, expressed gratitude towards the development of the HEQAS.
“Quality assurance is a crucial and important aspect for higher education. When it comes to education standards, we have met quite the backlash but mostly because we did not have a guiding document to assist us improve. As a Ministry, we have been constantly asked as to when we would provide such a document and it is with great gratitude to see that it is finally done,” said Mrs. Kalizang’oma.
The Council involved international education experts Dr. Kaylash Algoo, Dr. Franz Gertze and Mr. Harry Kamdima to develop the HEQAS, which caters for both internal and external quality assurance systems in higher education.
In his presentation, Dr. Kaylash Algoo explained that the purpose of an Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) system, is to provide a common frame of reference that will assist and guide higher education institutions in Malawi when designing, establishing, evaluating, maintaining, renewing and reviewing their internal quality assurance policies and procedures.
“Aside from that, the document will be used by higher education institutions in Malawi to harmonize their internal quality assurance systems by aligning them to the proposed framework while at the same time provide for consistency in internal quality assurance systems across higher learning institutions in Malawi,” he explained.
On the other hand, Dr. Franz Gertze who presented on the external quality assurance section of the (HEQAS), explained that the core purpose of the External Quality Assurance (EQA) is to operationalize the NCHE Act No. 15 of 2011.
“The external quality assurance part of the HEQAS is also there to provide best practices in external quality assurance that will be used in higher education institutions in Malawi,” explained Dr. Gertze.
Until now, Malawi did not have well-documented Quality Assurance Systems for Higher Education Institutions making this a welcome development. The entire process of developing the HEQAS involved representatives from public and private Higher Education Institutions, professional and regulatory bodies and Ministries of Education and Labor who reviewed and gave recommendations for the HEQAS every step of the way.