Saturday, September 23, 2023
NewsDistance Education under scrutiny as integrity corrodes

Distance Education under scrutiny as integrity corrodes

Ministry launches probe into programs

Authorities are launching a sweeping audit of Ethiopian higher education, raising alarm about the academic integrity of some distance learning programs that have boomed in recent years.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) began a nationwide audit of distance education programs, citing integrity concerns.

The audit covers all higher education institutions and aims to validate credentials and screen distance offerings, according to Education Minister Berhanu Nega (Prof.).

He disclosed the campaign to guests gathered at the 150th anniversary event for the University of South Africa (UNISA) earlier this week, including Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. UNISA provides distance education in Ethiopia.

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“We are auditing our own systems,” Berhanu said to the gathering.

While praising UNISA’s education program as exemplary, Berhanu voiced concerns over integrity issues in distance learning.

Officials stated that the Ministry is “worried about it and looking into the entire distance program.”

Many public and private institutions offer distance education from grade school through postgraduate. The Ministry’s main concern lies in higher education.

“Distance learning like UNISA’s is only important as long as there is an explicit understanding that both the student and the institutions involved don’t compromise on the integrity of the degree provided,” Birhanu said.

State Minister Samuel Kifle (PhD), in charge of higher education, raised concerns over lacking discipline in the education system.

Without discipline, unavoidable shortcomings in controlling mechanisms between dispersed students and schools can occur, he explained.

“We realized we must be very careful when handling distance education,” Samuel told The Reporter. He disclosed receiving claims of students obtaining credentials without proper learning, or through exam proxies.

Commenting on quality concerns, Birhanu said, “In the hopes of broadening access to education, we have played footsie with the quality of education, which is hurting us more than anything else.”

The Ministry is auditing higher education distance offerings thoroughly.

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