The Ghanaian government has ordered the verification of qualifications of all teaching staff in technical universities because of concerns that some lecturers have used fraudulent certificates to obtain their employment.
Speaking at the opening of the second annual African Qualifications Verification Network (AQVN) meeting held in Ghana on 31 October, Ghana’s Minister of State in charge of tertiary education Professor Kwesi Yankah said: “The Ghanaian government is concerned about the increase in cases of fraudulent qualifications, both for employment and further studies.”
As a result, the government had initiated moves to authenticate the qualifications of teaching staff of all technical universities – a move, he said, that was “likely to be extended” to all public institutions.
He said the government would support any effort aimed at promoting the AQVN initiative, as it promises to contribute to the effectiveness of the verification process.
Yankah called on the AQVN Council to come up with good practice guidelines for its members. “It should also intensify the membership drive to advance its objective of getting the entire continent on board.”
He said the qualifications found in national qualification systems and issues with mobility of academic, professional, technical and vocational labour at regional, continental and intercontinental levels required collaborations and partnerships. Also needed was innovation to build effective and efficient systems for verification and recognition.
Yankah said the network would not only facilitate verification and recognition of qualifications but would foster effective cooperation at all levels of development while complementing continental initiatives aimed at integration.
“We want to assure the AQVN Council and all stakeholders present that Ghana is ready to support and participate in such initiatives for sustainable development in all areas and at all levels of education,” he said.
Acting Executive Secretary of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) of Ghana Kingsley Nyarko said the board recognised only those certificates awarded by institutions accredited in their home countries and recognised as reciprocal arrangements with counterpart agencies in foreign countries as well as the educational attachés of foreign embassies in Ghana.
Nyarko said that as of September 2018, the unit charged with the verification of qualifications had received over 2,000 applications. He said the board had plans to upgrade the unit to a fully-fledged department with no less than 10 staff and to automate the credential evaluation process.
Nyarko said the country was facing a problem with the proliferation of unaccredited entities purporting to be running tertiary education programmes and deceiving the unsuspecting public. In addition, there was also a high incidence of phony certificates.
He said the successful implementation of the Economic Community of West African States convention on equivalence of certificates and the Arusha (1981) and Addis (2014) conventions on recognition of qualifications, among other intra-African initiatives, depended on the development of qualifications frameworks in member countries.
Nyarko said the NAB was also facing challenges in the establishment of equivalences with respect to some foreign qualifications and there was a growing need for quality education with a well-structured qualifications system in Ghana. In the light of global trends and international best practice, this necessitated the development of a National Qualifications Framework and National Learners’ Records Database, he said.
The board was ready and willing to support AQVN in its quest to facilitate the verification of qualifications and easy mobility of qualifications across the continent, he said.
Quality assurance specialist representing the Association of African Universities (AAU), Violet Makuku, said in order for qualification verification to work, there was a need to harmonise standards and guidelines for accreditation, research, governance, infrastructure, teaching and staff tenure in institutions of higher education. There was also a need to define courses and modules making up degree programmes.
She said the Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework, an initiative of the African Union Commission aimed at facilitating the harmonisation of quality assurance systems in African higher education, was being hindered by a lack of public commitment, reluctance on the part of regional and national agencies, limited human capacity in key organisations, as well as a lack of coordination between different agencies.
Makuku said there was a need for more appreciation of the framework at national, regional and continental levels as well as public commitment.