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GTEC engages stakeholders to develop distance education policy

The Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) is developing a draft policy that will regulate distance education in tertiary institutions.

When completed, the policy will, among other things, provide robust regulations that will enhance quality, and standards, as well as encourage innovation and technology to promote distance education.

As part of the process to have a comprehensive policy in line with the educational goals of the country, the GTEC last Friday, held a stakeholders meeting to deliberate on the draft policy in Accra.

Participants during the event included vice-chancellors of universities, distance education experts and other stakeholders in the education ecosystem. The Director General of the GTEC, Prof. Ahmed Abdulai Jinapor, said although distance education had tremendously increased access to tertiary education, it was saddled with certain challenges that could affect the quality of education.

“While distance education offers unprecedented flexibility and accessibility, it also poses unique risks related to quality assurance, accreditation and learner support. Through collaborative dialogue and informed deliberation, we can identify effective strategies to address these challenges and ensure that our regulatory framework promotes excellence and equity in education, “he said.

Stakeholders input

Responding to concerns about why distance education programmes ought to be accredited on their satellite campus, especially programmes from abroad, which had already been accredited, Prof. Jinapor said accreditation was campus-specific.

“Accreditation is campus location specific. The policy document shaped as the curriculum is what is accredited, but we need to also accredit the campuses to ensure that such campuses have the infrastructure to run the programmes,” he said.

He said tertiary education was evolving and that was why GTEC was working on numerous policies to improve regulations to promote quality teaching and learning environment for national development.

However, there must be stakeholder engagement to ensure the development of policies that would have the input of all and be fit for purpose. “We want the expertise and guidance of all stakeholders. It is a process we are going through, we have not finalised it. The GTEC is only providing the platform and vehicle for the perfection of the tertiary education eco space,’ he added.

Distance education

The Director of Accreditation of the GTEC, John Dadzie-Mensah, said distance education had been a regular feature in many tertiary institutions, which took new significance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the boom in distance education was good news but it also presented enormous challenges which the GTEC had to address. “Many institutions are exploring innovative ways for delivering tertiary level programmes in the form of distance education.  As a regulator, GTEC needs to regulate the space because of the flexibility associated with distance education.

If we do not have a comprehensive policy, many things, especially concerning quality, might go wrong,” he said. The aim of the policy, he said, was to ensure that no matter the method adopted by tertiary institutions in delivering distance education programmes, quality and standards would not be compromised.

Some of the key stakeholders who spoke at the event lauded the policy initiative by GTEC, especially the decision to engage with them. The Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the University of Ghana, Prof. Olivia Kwapong, said the policy would further enhance the already robust systems put in place by tertiary institutions to promote distance education.

“We are very happy that the regulator is showing interest in giving us a policy framework that will inform distance education to have uniform standards. Distance education is what we need now because education is the tool for development. Gone are those days when people could go on study leave,” she said.

For the President of the Laweh University College, Prof. Goski Alabi, input from the stakeholders would enhance the policy framework to ensure that technology was enhanced to promote education.

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