Accreditation Agencies and Quality Assurance in Belize
Currently Belize has no officially appointed agency for accreditation activities for the educational institutions located in the country. The Ministry of Education is solely responsible for implementing policies and directives for setting up and validating educational institutions functioning in the country. There was never an active initiation being taken by the national government except in 2004 but that too failed. In spite of being passed and cleared by the then government authorities and that too after the formal announcement, the formation of the National Accreditation Council for Belize was never agreed upon and is still pending for the final agreement. Therefore Belize has no official body to examine the quality of education in the country.
Presently, the Ministry of Education
’s three heads- Tertiary, post-secondary and adult continuing education unit does not have the requisite resources, expertise and legal guidance to properly monitor, coordinate and develop the segment effectively. The entire thing has been handed over under the purview of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports which is a part of the Government of Belize.
As of now the absence of an autonomous and official body for monitoring quality education in the country has affected the quality of education being offered to the students by the educational institutes. The sanctions required are not met properly by the Ministry in charge. The Ministry of Education lacks a proper exposure, experience, expertise to deal and function in this regard. Therefore a vacuum still exists in this position even though the government is in active charge of the role.
This has created trouble for a uniform planning for the culture of higher education in the country. The unavailability of a proper accrediting body has made it difficult to regularize the uniform structure of the education system in the country which has compelled the college governing bodies to adopt their individual framework to run their respective centers of learning.
A study about the requirement of the accrediting agency was carried out by an independent body found that majority of the educational institutes which are function in the country have expressed in single voice about the requirement of the improved version of National Accreditation Council for Belize. The respondents also commented for the need of creation of an autonomous body for the accreditation process.
As a result to fight with the current crisis two most prominent institution of excellence in the country named University of Belize and Saint John’s College have taken initiatives to function as internal quality assurance centres for every curriculum of study except Medical under the Ministry of Education. The University of Belize has improved the quality of the higher education of the country. Also it keeps a vigil check and monitors the quality of the curriculum on a half yearly basis.
However, for proper conduction of medical studies in the country of Belize the medical colleges are under the purview of the Belize Medical School Accreditation Committee which functions under the Ministry of Education, Belize.
The government is planning to set up an accreditation body on the lines of the National Accreditation Council in the coming years. The government has understood the need of the monitoring body and is working towards the proper establishment of the council for the betterment of the society and the country.