Quality assurance | Accreditation | Certification
The Centre recognizes that quality assurance (QA) is a philosophy of the work place that provides an organization with information to examine and regulate the quality of its core functions and activities. To achieve this objective, the Centre strives to consider quality assurance issues for a variety of activities to ensure high standards through constant improvement of services and products. This is accomplished inter alia by setting goals regarding quality assurance and attempting to regulate their variables. This section deals with those goals and the procedures followed to improve quality of services and products.
QA is of critical importance in cross-border, cross- institutional collaboration, as the term 'quality’ is difficult to define and could be interpreted differently by different people. QA is largely concerned with accountability and compliance, and these procedures should lead to quality enhancement, which is an ongoing process. Relevance is an important aspect of quality in education and training, and the Centre is committed to provide relevant training by remaining alert to the changing needs of our clients. To support this goal, new ICTs and tools will be introduced to enhance the quality of the training provided, e.g. mobile phone technologies where applicable. According to the Arusha recommendations, QA is an important aspect on all levels of training for the Faculties in the region.
The development of all the training material offered by the Centre will be according to the ADDIE model (Analyse – Design – Develop – Implement – Evaluate). The following development process is followed for all course content:
Instructional Designers and Web Developers from the DVTD and the Department for Education Innovation (UP) are involved in the design, development, implementation and QA processes. The University of Pretoria's QA standards and guidelines for best practices are applied to all training material that is developed. For all courses for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses, quality assurance is applied as follows:
- Online courses: An online course survey is posted in every online course and delegates are encouraged to complete and submit the survey. The results of the survey is summarized and regular feedback sessions are held to discuss the results and recommendations are made for improving any problem areas.
- Contact training sessions: During contact training sessions the delegates have to complete an extensive questionnaire developed by Continuing Education at University of Pretoria (CEatUP), in order to evaluate all the different aspects of the training experience such as course content and presentation of the course content. After each contact session, the results are made available to the course coordinator. A feedback session with the course coordinator and facilitators is arranged, and where applicable, the programme is adapted and course materials are reviewed to ensure the highest quality learning is given to delegates.
- Audiovisual products: CDs and DVDs are included as part of the training materials of a number of online modules. These materials contain text, slides, video clips and animations and are designed and developed by Instructional Designers according to the quality assurance standards outlined by the Department for Education Innovation (DEI), of the UP. There is a continuous process of consultation and evaluation throughout the development phase, as well as a final ‘shredding’ session by the Instructional Designers of the DEI. A final quality check is performed by the academic staff member responsible for the development of the material, the relevant Section Head and the Head of Department, before the product is finally accepted and distributed.
The Collaborating Centre will benefit from the DVTD’s link to the educational networking project for quality in education (LINQED). LINQED was established in 2008, and is a project funded within the 3rd Framework Agreement (FA3) between The Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM), Antwerp, Belgium and the Belgian Directorate General of Development Cooperation (DGDC). The central theme is "switching the poles". Switching the poles refers to the uneven balance between the North and the South in the development and achievement of global health. Networking is considered as a means to jointly address global priority needs in health research, practices and policies. There are 12 member Institutions of which the DVTD is one, and annual workshops are held with the expectation that it will reinforce the partners' training capacities by dealing jointly with common educational problems and issues, and that it will contribute to switching the poles.
It is envisioned that Task groups will be formed to review and evaluate the course content for specific diseaeses, or for more comprehensive sections. Representatives from regional Faculties will be included in an overall QA Steering Committee, as illustrated in the diagram below:
Accreditation is the outcome of an evaluation process, done by an external body to establish if applicable standards are met which assures quality. All courses for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) will be accredited with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC). The University of Pretoria (UP) is an accredited multi-purpose service provider and quality assurance mechanisms have been implemented by Continuing Education at University of Pretoria (CEatUP) to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the certificates that are issued by CEatUP to learners after successful completion of a course.
There are 2 types of accreditation:
- Institutional accreditation in which overall institutional quality is evaluated, as in the case of Colleges and Universities, and
- Specialized professional accreditation, which in South Africa is the responsibility of the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), and which ensures that accredited Veterinary training programmes meet the quality standards set by the veterinary profession. The quality of programmes and courses are assessed, evaluated and improved through a formal peer review system.
Accreditation is a prerequisite for mutual recognition, educational agreements and cross-border educational collaboration. There is increased interest in global accreditation as a way to improve programme quality. A global accreditation system is currently being established for Veterinarians, based on mutual recognition of officially accredited schools (USA, UK, Europe and Australasia). Regional blocks of accreditation currently operate globally. The challenge for the SADC Region is to develop and implement a Regional block of accreditation.
At the Arusha convention it was recommended that a Regional Accreditation Body should be formed for all the faculties of sub-Saharan Africa. The experience and expertise of the SAVC could be utilized to establish a Regional Accrediting Body. Minimum standards for veterinary and para-veterinary training should be set. Standardisation and harmonisation of core programmes for all veterinarians should be considered, and the quality of training should be monitored, in order to achive accreditation for other veterinary Faculties. Modular short courses must focus on the relevant veterinary needs of the Region, rather than striving to comply with the full scope of global veterinary practices.
Internationally, it is possible to obtain a diploma or degree by successfully completing short courses for CPD. Recognition by OIE / FAO / SADC is very important. The future aim is to get accreditation in the global market.
Certifications are earned from a Professional society. e.g. the SAVC. As part of a complete renewal of an individual's certification, it is common for the individual to show evidence of continued professional development. Certificates for the courses presented by the Centre will be issued jointly by Continuing Education at University of Pretoria (CEatUP) and the OIE Collaboration Center.