NTA Dissolved, NAQAA to oversee Tertiary, University Education

By Kebba Jeffang

There is no more National Training Authority that is charged with regulating, monitoring and accrediting the tertiary institutions in the Gambia, but the National Quality Accredited Authority (NAQAA) is the replacement vested with more powers to accredit, regulate, and close deficiency institutions as well as regulate University education in the country, unlike NTA.

This information was gathered during the inauguration of the new governing council of the Authority attended by educationists, as well as private sector business proprietors in the country, held on Friday, 24th July, 2015, at its  new office building in Kanifing.

Hon. Aboubacarr A. Senghore, the minister of higher education, research, science and technology, said that the newly constituted NAQAA governing council will make an indelible mark in the annals of the history of the Gambian education system.

He disclosed that the establishment of NAQAA started in 2013 as part of the ongoing reforms within the tertiary and higher education sector, aimed at building a reputable and credible tertiary education sector that will respond adequately to the needs and aspirations of the Gambian people and others living in the Gambia.

“The process took the form of study tours to different countries with relevant experts in establishing, operationalizing and accrediting quality assurance body in the country. Stakeholder consultations, working sessions and review exercises of the draft bill by legal and policy experts were carried out. It was then endorsed by the cabinet, passed by the National Assembly and eventually assented to by the President,” said minister Senghore.

He said the new council will be responsible for determining the validity and equivalence of diplomas, certificates and other qualifications awarded by institutions within or outside the Gambia. They are also to approve the establishment of tertiary institutions, registration and accreditation of licenses, as well as to decide on the appointment, functions, emoluments and code of conduct of the staff of the Authority. He said the Council is also vested with authority to recommend to the minister the granting of approval to, or rejection of the application of any applicant who does not fulfill the criteria for the establishment of tertiary and higher education institutions. It is to receive and monitor reports, returns, statements and any other information relating to institutional audit and, finally, to perform such other functions as may be conferred on it by this Act or any other Act of the National Assembly.

He said the defunct NTA was established in 2002 and since then they had been working effectively. He said one of the weaknesses of the defunct institution was the lack of authority to close institutions that were found wanting.  He said that was due to deficiencies in the provisions of the NTA Act 2002.

Mr. Edrissa Mass Jobe, the Chairman of the governing council of NAQAA, said the work ahead for his team is beyond safeguarding the standards of Gambian higher education, but to work to help the university and other providers improve the quality of the learning experience.

“Our greatest challenge would be to certify not only the formal but also vocational competences acquired through tradition, practice, research and experimentation,” he said.