Quality and standards of qualifications are a global necessity as far as education and training are concerned.
A country that fails to ensure the quality, credibility, and authenticity of the capabilities and academic certificates that its institutions offer, risks a treacherous slippery ground with its future.
The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) has endeavoured to ensure the quality and global competitiveness of national qualifications that are acquired from Kenyan institutions.
This is in line with its mandate to implement the National Qualifications Framework which is a system for articulation, classification, registration, accreditation and quality assurance of national qualifications.
The framework aims to integrate Kenya’s education and training system and enhance mobility and progression towards and within the world of work, for personal empowerment and economic development.
The Kenya National Qualifications Framework addresses the concerns of pertinent stakeholders, for instance, the learner is assured of well-articulated and enhanced access to learning, transfer, and progression into, within and between programmes of learning and mobility.
Second, the education system benefits from increased coherence, communication and coordination between the stakeholders in terms of consistency and relevance of qualifications standards.
Third, the labour market benefits from demand-focused education and training as well as a skilled and competent labour force.
Lastly, the country as a whole is assured of relevant and globally competitive qualifications.
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The Authority’s mandate is to ensure that education systems and institutions are coordinated and harmonious. KNQA works with various stakeholders for the purposes of quality assurance, assessment, and ascertaining that the qualifications awarded are credible and standardized and that they meet international comparability.
A recent development coordinated by KNQA nationally is the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). RPL is on its way to actualization. Skilled individuals without requisite qualifications will successfully get credible credentials and those who learn through an apprenticeship are also recognized after a rigorous and satisfactory display of mastery of the skill in question.
This speaks directly to the bottom-up economic transformation agenda which is conscious of education as the ultimate means of ensuring an equitable society and giving every individual a chance to fulfil their potential and rise to the highest level of accomplishment irrespective of social background.
The significance of National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) in improving comparability, transparency and trust in qualifications globally cannot be overemphasized. Reasons for the adoption and implementation of NQFs are many and varied.
Most of the countries that have adopted an NQF are concerned with the poor articulation between qualifications and actual skills needs in the workplace; the need to rectify the poor credibility and quality of existing qualifications and training programmes and the lack of coherence and the rather fragmented nature of the qualifications system.
The need for provision for recognition of non-formally acquired skills and facilitating the integration of such skills into the formal system - where a large part of the population is evidently excluded from the formal education system or where there is a high number of school dropouts also creates an impetus for the adoption of National Qualifications Framework.
The frameworks, thus provide a basis for improving the quality, accessibility, linkages and labour market recognition of qualifications within a country and internationally. This is also in line with Sustainable Development Goal Number four ‘to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’
Quality, access and relevance in education and training have never been a matter of compromise, it is obligatory.
As a country, with systems in place to ensure the quality of our qualifications, it is imperative for all stakeholders to play their part in ensuring that we have a dependable, well-qualified workforce now and in the future, that not only meets national but also international standards.
Dr Kande is the acting Director General of Kenya National Qualifications Authority