JIS News

The Caribbean Area Network for Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education (CANQATE) will stage its second annual conference in Port of Spain, Trinidad from November 28 to 30.
The conference, which will be held under the theme: ‘Quality Tertiary Education in Single Market Economies: Challenges and Benefits’, will bring together a number of CARICOM countries including Jamaica, Antigua, Bermuda, Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, associate members such as the Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as representatives of the United States and Canada.
In an interview with JIS News, Executive Director of the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) and Chair of CANQATE, Dr. Ethley London, said the conference would provide a platform for educational administrators, training coordinators, government officials, and members of the academic community, to “share their experiences, present research findings, and review recent developments in the areas of quality tertiary education”.
Issues to be discussed at the conference include: regional accreditation, recognition of international bodies, distance education and e-learning, offshore delivery sites, teacher education, total quality management, and student and peer evaluations. Dr. London informed that she would be representing Jamaica at one of the plenary sessions of the conference where she will speak on ‘The effects of Standards on Quality in Jamaica’.
CANQATE was established in 2004 as a sub-regional body of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE). Its mandate is to promote and assist in the implementation of best practices in quality assurance in tertiary education in the region; provide up-to-date information in quality assurance issues for Caribbean agencies and tertiary institutions; encourage the development of a cadre of professionals in the field of quality assurance in the region; and function as the advocating body for national quality assurance bodies in regional and international fora.
Dr. London informed that the long-term goal of the organization, was to provide for the regional harmonization of policies and standards in the area of quality assurance and accreditation, especially in light of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). “It is one of the things that will be integral to the success of the CSME and we are trying now through CARICOM, to harmonize all our policies, procedures and systems,” she told JIS News.
“In terms of mobility,” she added, “it would be easier for persons, as there would be mutual recognition of qualifications, so when you move from one country to the next, you do not have to be evaluated again. If someone moves from Trinidad to Jamaica, and Trinidad has already given a stamp of approval through its quality assurance agency, the UCJ would accept that”.
Dr. London pointed out that a number of Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana, had either established or would be establishing accreditation councils as a step in this direction.
“The issue of quality education and assurance is very important.it is the avenue that is being explored quite extensively all over the world and we feel in the Caribbean, the movement is necessary, and CARICOM is leading a movement for countries to set up accreditation bodies, which will perform their quality assurance role,” she asserted.