Qualifications Authority conference gets underway

By Ilia L. Likou 11 April 2018, 12:00AM

The Post School Education and Training annual conference was opened at the Taumeasina Island Resort yesterday.

Hosted by the Samoa Qualification Authority (S.Q.A.), the theme for this year’s conference is “It is essential to Strengthen Partnerships between the Post School Education and Training and the Work place”. 

Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti, made it clear the conference is part of the Post School Education and Training (P.S.E.T.) Strategic Plan 2017-2020. 

This is closely linked to the strategy for the development of Samoa, the education sector plan, the sustainable development goals and also to elements of the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway.

“As mandated by its 2010 Act, S.Q.A. provides policy advice, regulates quality, assures and co-ordinates the post school subsector of education in Samoa,” Loau said.

“Provision of and access to high quality Post School Education and Training increases opportunities for employment and improves conditions of life.” 

“National, economic and social development goals cannot be achieved without quality education that leads to employment. The Government of Samoa fully recognises this and despite challenges in cost and other considerations, post school and tertiary level government institutions were established and have over the years been merged under the National University of Samoa.” 

“The Government of Samoa, together with its development partners, also provides funding support for other post school providers mainly the mission schools who have focused on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (T.V.E.T.).” 

“Technical assistance and consumables have enabled them to move towards S.Q.A. registration and meet quality standards for programme development and accreditation.” 

“Funding assistance is also available for vulnerable students and for teachers to upgrade so they can meet qualification requirements of teaching as determined by the Samoa Professional Standards for Technical and Vocational Trainers.” 

“Quality is the key word in all of these processes.”

Loau believes without quality assurance there is no real development in any of our institutions. 

“This decline in standards and quality inevitably cascades into inability to perform or meet expectations. Transparent quality assurance systems must be in place for national and international recognition of an institution and its qualifications.”

“This is the core work of S.Q.A. that impacts on post school education and training and its graduates who will address the human resource needs of Samoa. Our stakeholders and partners are an essential part of quality assurance.” 

“The relevance of education and training to the workplace forms part of this quality.”

“Over the years, pathways from the classroom or lecture hall into the workplace have not always been clear.”

“Graduates were not always employable because their requisite skills and knowledge sometimes did not match what was needed in the workplaces.”

The conference opens a valuable opportunity for S.Q.A., employers and training providers to strengthen partnerships and make the learning and subsequent qualifications worthwhile and relevant. 

“Graduates can be educated in a broad sense but also they will have relevant knowledge, skills and expertise to match available jobs.” 

“Furthermore employers and workplace personnel qualified in their own fields are also key contributors in developing national and international standards which can open further opportunities for employment beyond our shores.” 

“We have a ready example with our N.U.S. School of Maritime which is recognised nationally and by the International Maritime Organisation (I.M.O.). Currently it is going through its first S.Q.A. audit.” 

“Our maritime graduates are employed locally on our inter island ferries and by international shipping companies. Their overseas salaries contribute to economic and social development.”  

“In order to be quality assured and have programmes accredited and qualifications recognised, every provider in Samoa must register, have its programmes accredited and in due course be subject to an audit by S.Q.A. after five years.”

“S.Q.A. by its Legislation requires these but many providers are slow in coming forward.”

“This reluctant response to S.Q.A. means providers cannot meet the quality assurance requirements which determine their legality and credibility, nationally and internationally.”

“We hope the discussion during this conference provides an opportunity to assure providers of the value in complying with S.Q.A. quality assurance processes.

 “As graduates move towards workplaces, employers see them for what they are and what they can do to add value in the workplace. Perceptions of quality are also determined by the S.Q.A. and its relevant stakeholders.”

“These are mechanisms put in place which safeguard providers in keeping to standards which can be accounted for and defended locally and overseas.”

“The outcomes of this conference will inform S.Q.A. of future priorities in its collaborative work with all stakeholders towards achieving quality, relevance and accessible post school education and training.”

“Strengthening partnerships is the key to overcoming our challenges and moving on to new opportunities and a better future for all.”

During an interview with the C.E.O. of Samoa Qualification Authority, Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma Kruse Va’ai, she said the conference is really about strengthening the links between work place and the providers. 

“What is taught in schools, institutions is relevant to the workplace,” she said.

“Everything is there in terms of building the resources, human resource and teachers or lectures are well qualified and able to equip the students with the  knowledge and skills that are relevant in the workplace.”

“In that way when we do work in the workplace our graduates will be happy and be able to work and develop in those workplaces and contribute to the development of Samoa and their own development as well. They get their salaries and they’re able to develop their families, villages and also their churches.”

“With improvements here, we’ve increased the number of registered providers.”

“And in order to register, you really have to improve your own conditions and comply with the requirements and after the registration, we also work to ensure that the programmes are relevant.”

“The programmes are good that in the sense when you get the qualifications, it’s worthy of getting a job and it also helps you to develop even further studies or to get job here or overseas.” 

“So we had increased these activities that S.Q.A. are responsible for, but we have to work together with the providers and some of the providers are not yet able to come forward for registration first, and then meditation and after a period of time they come in for an audit.”

“So these are the processes that S.Q.A. offers to all the providers to ensure that quality when you get your degree, you know enough to be able to do the job and you’re also able develop in those workplace and contribute to the workplace as well.”

By Ilia L. Likou 11 April 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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