HERQA issues certificates, defies its own directive
Despite an earlier directive which prohibited extension education programs in health related fields, the Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) issued a certificate for more than 3,000 students who graduated last year in the fields, The Reporter has learnt.
It is to be recalled that, five year ago upon an order from Ministry of Health; HERQA has issued a circular which prohibits any higher education institution from offering courses in any of the heath related education streams to students in the extension programs.
The major rational behind the circular was that the extension program would compromise the quality of the educational delivery.
Given the fact that most of the attendees of the extension programs are full-time employees, they would not have time for any practical training which the field requires desperately.
Practical trainings for health and health related students are supposed to be given in day programs since it might compromise the quality of their profession and endanger the life of patients.
Having the aforementioned rationales, HERQA banned higher educational intuitions from giving extension programs in public health, nursing, pharmacy, midwifery, health officers and dental medicine almost five years ago.
However last year, close to 300o students were find to have graduated in the field in extension program; and were issued their certificates, recently.
We had no knowledge of these students before, said Tarekgne Geressu, communication head of the Agency.
However, these students approached HERQA only when they wanted to get their certificates, he said.
The Agency which was established to monitor and regulate higher education institutions for years is supposed to have an updated data base of students across the country.
The problem is there is always a challenge to get the right data from the private higher education institutions about their students, numbers, types of fields, according to Traekegne.
The certificate for the 3,000 students who got their education in contradiction to the earlier directive was also approved by Ministry of Health. The graduate comprises of 646 Public Health, 1159 Nursing, 741 Pharmacy, 403 Midwife and 7 Dental Health.
To compensate the gaps in practical as well as theoretical knowledge of the 3,000 students, the Ministry is expected to give additional trainings.
In addition to the 3,000 gradates, those currently in 3rd and 4th year are still attending class and they are expected to transfer to regular programs.
Despite this, our Agency will closely follow the issue and will penalize the institutions involved, said Tarekgne.
Established in 2003 as a regulatory body HERQA is responsible for overseeing the education sector, it recently suspended nine educational institutions, of which four are engaged in health education.
Nevertheless, Tarekgne declined to reveal the name of the health institutions who have continued to offer the extension programs in prohibited health fields.