“Students at tertiary institutions do not drop from the sky. They come primarily from the secondary and primary schools. A student underperforming at the lower levels therefore presents challenges for tertiary education enrolment and by extension the availability of a highly-skilled work force,” Granger explained.
According to Granger, lack of proper groundwork at these preceding academic levels places a strain on the quality of tertiary education, as tertiary institutions often find themselves burdened with the task of resolving the deficient situation.
“Tertiary education in the Caribbean will continue to be overwhelmed with remedial functions unless quality assurance can be guaranteed at the lowest levels, that is the nursery, primary and secondary schools. We therefore need to examine quality assurance at all levels of our education system,”
Granger stressed, while speaking before an audience that included Guyana’s Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana (UG), Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, and CANQATE President, Dr Ronald Brunton.
Also in attendance were Chief Education Officer Marcel Raymond Hutson and several students from the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and UG.
The four-day conference, which is being hosted by the National Accreditation Council (NAC), with funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), is being held under the theme: “Sustaining a Culture of Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education for National and Regional Development.”
Granger described the conference as being held with “an appropriate theme, at an appropriate time.” Earlier in his speech, Dr Roopnaraine also commended the aptness of the conference being hosted just at the conclusion of Education Month celebrations.
He called it a “symbolic” occurrence, more so because the event coincides with the World Teachers Day which was celebrated on Wednesday.
“This conference is much more than another routine. It is being held as we wind down the celebrations of Education Month. It comes at a time when our old Accreditation Council is accelerating its preparations to provide accreditation services, even as it continues to register new education institutions. It coincides with CARICOM’s drive to craft its human resource development strategy, a strategy that must embrace tertiary education as one of the key elements, indeed its central element,” Dr Roopnaraine stated.
He also reminded delegates of the critical nature of education in ensuring the development of human resources during his speech. There cannot be education without quality, Dr Roopnaraine informed the delegates, while noting the important role teachers play in the scheme of things.
Hand In Hand
“If we fail in education everything else will go. Education and quality go hand in hand, but education cannot achieve quality without the pivotal input of the teachers and by teaching,” he said.
The second speaker of the night, Dr Ronald Brunton, applauded the NAC for bringing the conference to Guyana, noting that it highlighted the body’s commitment to quality assurance in Guyana.
“By hosting the CANQATE conference, the NAC demonstrates most importantly its commitment to protecting the interests of the students, employers, the Government and other stakeholders in Guyana, as well as the broader Caribbean region. This conference will indeed go a long way to strengthening the NAC’s position as the legitimate, and recognised quality assurance agency in Guyana. After this conference, the Guyanese public should feel a sense of greater pride of their tertiary education sector,” he said.
Established in 2004, the NAC is the principal body in Guyana for conducting and advising on the accreditation and recognition of educational and training institutions, providers, programmes and awards, whether foreign or national and for the promotion of the quality and standards of education and training in Guyana.
NAC is a member of the CANQATE, which itself was also established in 2004 as a sub-network of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE).
INQAAHE is a world-wide association of over 200 organisations active in the theory and practice of quality assurance in higher education.
Tuesday’s conference ended with “Spectrum – A Guyanese Story”; a very entertaining cultural kaleidoscopic display that sought to highlight many aspects of Guyana’s signature multicultural society.
Those in attendance also observed a minute of silent prayer for those in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew. Haiti is also one of the 12 countries participating in this year’s conference.