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Published On  Oct 16,  2011
   
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Ban on Distance Education, Programs Being Evaluated

The Higher Education Quality Agency lifts ban on one institution, tests distance education students.

 

After lodging its complaint to the Higher Education Relevance & Quality Agency, the ranking of Alkan Health College’s degree program has been modified as having fulfilled the minimum requirement.

Alkan was one of the 13 higher institutions, whose degree programs were put on one year probation time, since one of its campus was ranked as not fulfilled the minimum requirements.

The rating of the Agency, announced almost two months ago was a much debated subject among higher institutions after it revealed that the degree programs of five institutions were to be closed and 13 campuses of 11 institutions put on one-year probation founded on their quality. Those outside these two categories were rated as having fulfilled the minimum requirement.

However, many contested the rating, which they said were supposed to actually rank the institutions. Following the announcement, 14 institutions along with Alkan submitted their complaints to the board of the Agency, whose evaluation was completed last week.

Among the five collages which were banned from continuing their degree programs, Hayume Health Science College in Ambo, and Nile College in Mekelle, were two which asked the board to have a second look at their evaluation process.

Admass University College and Unity University also appealed the decision of the board. Although they were rated as having fulfilled the minimum requirement, they complained that the rating they received, which has not been made public yet, was inaccurate.

The Education Quality Agency is expected to announce its decision soon.

This is not the only issue the Agency is trying to resolve based on the complaints of higher institutions. The agency is also evaluating the distance education programs of 22 higher education institutes, which have been banned by Ministry of Education (MoE) since August 2010.

Distance education had become a popular choice by many before it was closed.

There were 38,403 students enrolled in distance education programs in governmental higher institutions and 44,178 in private institutions in 2009/10 academic year. This was a 195pc and 76pc increase respectively from the year before.

The agency has been evaluating distance education programs to decide whether they should be re-opened. The final stage of the evaluation, testing those who have been enrolled in these programs, was conducted over the last two weeks.

 “We had already evaluated the input and process standards of colleges and universities engaged in distance education,” Tarekegn told Fortune.

Some of the Additional evaluation Standards for the distance education program includes module distribution and the status of the experts who ratified the modules, the resource centre of the institutions, tutor frequency and attendance documentation, communication systems like fax and internet, and systems for distance students to see and comment on their test results.    

The final component tests what the agency is calling output through examination run by National Agency for Examination. Although the Education Quality & Assurance Agency had initially planned to test 10, 416 students only 6, 292 students took the test, which was prepared by Addis Abeba University.

The fields from which students were tested were Management, Accounting, Public Management, Agricultural Economics and Development Management.

These fields of study were chosen because they are shared by most of the higher education institutes’ distance education programs, according to Tarekegn.

The results of these tests are being evaluated and will be added to the previous indicators of input and process evolution, and on whose results the Agency will decide whether or not to continue the ban on distance education.

By HRUY TSEGAYE
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

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