The attention of the National Accreditation Board has been drawn to a purported investigative report by two (2) Ghanaians – Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata of Valdosta State University, USA and Dr. A. Kobla Dotse who describes himself as an educationist, both residing in the USA. Although NAB has serious reservations about the ethical considerations employed for the study, we have decided to come out with this statement to clarify issues raised in the study and to put the mind of the general public, especially those interested in tertiary education, at rest.
Honorary Degrees – All those who have followed NAB’s publications, both on its website and in the national dailies will testify to the fact that NAB has periodically issued public caution against the award and receipt of the so-called honorary degrees by shadowy organisations such as Dayspring Christian University of Mississippi, Pan African Clergy Council and Bible College, Global Centre for Transformational Leadership, World Council for Evangelical Clergy etc. (See Thursday, September 18, 2014 edition of Ghanaian Times newspaper, for instance).
In times past, the modus operandi of these organisations had been the identification of prominent members of society whom they gathered at a particular point and conferred on them the so-called honorary degrees. Anytime this came to the attention of NAB, we had promptly written to those individuals involved and the owners of the venue where the event was to take place to forewarn them of the illegality of such activity according to Section 29 Sub Section (2) of the Tertiary Institutions (Establishment and Accreditation) Regulations, 2010 (L.I 1984).
Unfortunately, some of the prominent people and the media have been most unhelpful in ensuring that the nefarious activities of these shadowy institutions are curtailed. Indeed, what we see now is the ‘airlifting’ of some of these prominent people to destinations in the Americas to receive these awards.
Unaccredited institutions – The National Accreditation Board publishes both on its website and in the national media the list of not only accredited institutions and their programmes, but also unaccredited institutions both within and outside Ghana that comes to its attention. On many occasions when interviews had been granted to the media, it had been stressed that clients desiring to enroll in tertiary education institutions both within and outside Ghana should check the status of such institutions and their programmes with NAB. We had also appealed to employers to cross check the credentials of people they want to employ with NAB. While some of the organisations have heeded this call, others have not. In the circumstances, we find it difficult to accept blame from any serious minded person that NAB has sat down unconcerned for unaccredited institutions to operate. The investigative report mentioned earlier named some institutions outside the jurisdiction of Ghana and questioned why NAB had not taken action against such institutions and their products. Apart from the measures we have already outlined – that is cautioning the public against enrolling in them, we would want to be advised about how our ‘august researchers’ would like NAB to act on such institutions which are outside the jurisdiction of Ghana.
Swiss Management Centre (SMC) University– The impression is given in this report that NAB registered this institution to operate without any due diligence. This is factually inaccurate! The status of SMC was attested to by the Swiss Embassy in Accra, Ghana and the accreditation of their programmes both by European Council of Business Education and Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programmes (ACBSP), one of the accrediting bodies under the umbrella body of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), USA. The investigative report referred to CHEA as a private unrecognized organization. We wonder whether these investigative reporters really know what they were talking about. The United States has a number of regional and programme accrediting bodies which have been recognized or licensed by the Department of Education to operate as such. In order to coordinate their activities, these bodies came together to form the umbrella body called CHEA. Any serious follower of higher education in the USA knows the important role this coordinating body (CHEA) plays in the system.
Back to the status of SMC, NAB granted registration status to the institution based on the three facts stated – attestation from the Swiss Embassy in Accra, its membership of European Council of Business Education and Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programmes (ACBSP). Please note that NAB knows and recognizes that ACBSP accredits programmes and not institutions. These bodies are duly recognized in their jurisdictions and this can be attested to by the embassies of the two countries – Switzerland and the USA. At the time NAB initially registered SMC, it (NAB) understood that the Swiss authorities did not accredit private distance learning institutions. The condition of requiring an Institutional Accreditation from an institution’s native country could therefore not have applied. It must be stated, however that, like the grant of accreditation, registration of institutions is not for indefinite periods. There is a validity period for the grant due to the dynamic nature of the tertiary education landscape. NAB’s current information indicates that Switzerland has amended its legislation to make room for all higher education institutions to obtain accreditation from that country. Thus when SMC applied for re-registration which was due in 2015, NAB directed the institution to, among others:
• Provide a document indicating its accreditation status in its native Switzerland
• Cease fresh admission of students until (1) above had been complied with and approved by NAB.
In the interim, NAB extended its registration for three (3) years to cover students already admitted into their (i.e. MBA and DBA) programmes, which have been assessed by NAB and suggestions for improvements made. It must also be stated clearly that the credentials of those who have already graduated from SMC’s programmes remain valid until and unless incontrovertible evidence of fraud is established in their acquisition.
Lastly, it must also be made clear to the public, that NAB does not compel institutions to employ graduates of any particular institution. NAB only recognizes, evaluates and establishes equivalence between approved credentials from both within and outside Ghana.
UNQUALIFIED TEACHERS IN TERTIARY SYSTEM – Our investigative reporters alluded to a purported statement by the Vice Chancellor of University of Education Winneba (UEW) that 61% of teachers in the tertiary education system are unqualified. Unless, our researchers want us to take such a declaration on its face value, NAB finds it difficult to comment on what appears to be a rather sweeping statement. It would be appreciated if the research work on which that statement was based, could be made available to NAB which has a robust auditing system that investigates such matters periodically to establish their veracity. If that statement was in fact made by the VC of UEW, then we will like to ask whether UEW is also affected or it is exempted from that situation?
GOING FORWARD – It is unfortunate for patriotic citizens of our country to denigrate national institutions of their homeland based on hearsay ‘research’ whose ethical basis cannot be well grounded. Attaching personal e-mails, some of which they obtained from secondary sources, cannot be described as proper data collection for any serious research. On the part of NAB, it is only the institutions it regulates and other stakeholders within Ghana, that can testify whether the accrediting system is such a weakling as our researchers would have us believe.
Nevertheless, we must state that NAB with the active support of its supervisory Ministry (Ministry of Education) has decided to revise and strengthen its establishment Act in order to establish a more robust regulatory regime for the continuous quality assurance of tertiary education in Ghana. The cooperation of all well-wishers, including the media, intellectuals and the general public will be needed at all times, in that pursuit.