Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Buyer beware when enrolling at an education business

The past few weeks there have been shock stories in the newspaper and on the airwaves regarding students who have completed their studies (some as far afield as Indonesia), only to find out that their course of study or institution they were studying at are not accredited by the Namibian authorities.  A few of these customers have contacted the Consumer News Namibia Magazine and asked for our assistance in getting their courses accredited, or at the very least, getting their money refunded.

Consumer News Namibia Magazine has in previous editions covered the education sector, and more specifically the private tertiary institutions sector, but for the sake of our readers once again we give details in this article.

Let us start with educational institutions that are based in Namibia.
The Namibian constitution states:
(4) All persons shall have the right, at their own expense, to establish and to maintain private schools, or colleges or other institutions of tertiary education: provided that:
(a) such schools, colleges or institutions of tertiary education are registered with a Government department in accordance with any law authorising and regulating such registration;
(b) the standards maintained by such schools, colleges or institutions of tertiary education are not inferior to the standards

Educational institutions in Namibia (and their portfolio or courses) are accredited by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA). This institution evaluates and accredits national institutions and degrees, as well as foreign qualifications of people who wish to demonstrate the national equivalence of their degrees earned abroad.

According to their website:
“The Namibia Qualifications Authority (also referred to as the NQA) is a statutory body established by the Namibia Qualifications Authority Act No 29 of 1996.

The NQA is committed to the promotion of quality education and training in Namibia through the development and management of a comprehensive and flexible National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Quality is also promoted by the NQA through the Accreditation of education and training providers in Namibia and their courses.

The NQA wishes to assist the development of Namibia as a proud nation through putting in place systems and opportunities that allows all people to develop to their fullest potential without being hindered by unnecessary obstacles and barriers.
The NQA believes that all people have a right to having their learning and abilities validly, fairly, reliably and equitably recognised regardless of when, how and where learning attainments and competences were attained.”

Unfortunately, this is the only page that works on the NQA website. All other pages were unavailable for link through from 20 – 29 July 2013.
In a nutshell, the NQA has the responsibility of ensuring the quality of education received by Namibians. They do this through accrediting Namibian institutions and their courses as well as evaluating of course provided by international organisations.

Thus a Namibian student (or their parents) should first check with the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) before commencing their studies at either a local or foreign institution. In addition, the consumer must take note of what level the course is in the National Qualifications Framework.

Until Namibia gets a Consumer Protection Act, the rule is “Caveat emptor” or let the buyer beware. It still is the responsibility of the buyer to research the goods or services they wish to purchase and they have no recourse to the law if these do not meet their expectations.

1 comment:

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