The establishment of a national body for coordinating PSET in Samoa was identified in the Education Policies and Strategies (Education Policies 1995-2005; and Education Strategies 1995-2005). The need for a coordinated PSET approach for Samoa was reinforced in a 2003 review by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). As a result, SQA was legally established under the SQA Act 2006 to provide policy advice, coordinate and quality assure the PSET sector in Samoa. The work of SQA is continuing under the SQA Act 2010 which strengthened the regulatory functions of the SQA for PSET.
The need for closer links between PSET and the human resource capability needs of Samoa has been signalled as important for future development of the nation. Establishing national quality standards and a culture of continuing improvement is a fundamental step toward achieving this goal.
In the past, opportunities to establish links between qualifications and creating career paths for learners have not been obvious. Qualifications awarded have been very institutionally focused and prospects for development of clear pathways have therefore been limited. Meeting the needs of the wider community, Government, employers and of learners has become urgent for both social and economic development.
The internationalization of business, the demand for skills, and the opportunities that follow have contributed to the pressure that has led to the establishment of national quality assurance systems for recognizing qualifications.
The inclusion of non-formal learning presents some special challenges, but most significantly, it establishes opportunities to impact very directly on the performance of the existing workforce, and to open the door for recognition of learning and skills outside the formal system. This step presents a major opportunity to create value for learners and skilled people at all levels in the community.
QUALITY AUDIT PROCESS
Quality Audit is the process used to evaluate an organizations effectiveness against the SQA Quality Standards, and to ensure that it continues to comply with registration and programme accreditation criteria.
The purposes of the Quality Audit are:
(a) To assure both the audited organization and its clients and stakeholders that the services provided by the organisation consistently meet the SQA Quality Standard; and
(b) To identify for the organization opportunities for improvement.
PSET providers are required to conduct internal self-evaluations and/or internal audits as part of their quality management responsibilities. Ultimately, for external confidence, audit by an independent third party is required.
The outcome of an SQA quality audit determines whether the registration and accreditation status of a PSET Provider should be continued.
RECOGNITION OF NON FORMAL LEARNING
One of the functions of SQA is “to promote quality assurance in non-formal education and training programmes” (SQA Act 2010 Section 4.1). Furthermore, the SQA Act 2010 lists several functions of the Authority. Functions that are relevant to the recognition of non-formal learning (RNFL) which include:
- Regulate qualifications and quality standards for all PSET providers in Samoa;
- Co-ordinate and strengthen all PSET, so as to better focus the PSET sector on national development goals and to promote and develop articulation among programmes;
- Develop and facilitate partnerships between stakeholders in business, industry, professional, non-government and community organizations as PSET organizations;
- Work with national stakeholder groups to ensure standards and training requirements are established,
- Promote quality assurance in non-formal education and training programmes.
The SQA’s processes for the recognition of non-formal learning are designed to help enhance the quality of such learning activities and to encourage a culture of continuous improvement. The process enable non-formal learner achievements to be recognized and included on each individual’s national Record of Achievement (RoA). Their implementation will help give learners, the community and Government confidence that the education and training provided
NATIONAL EXTERNAL MODERATION
The National External Moderation (NEM) process is another important function of SQA under the QA Division. Generally, moderation is a process to ensure that assessment decisions are consistent amongst Assessors and PSET Providers. This includes any activity designed to ensure that:
– Assessment of individuals is conducted in a consistent, fair and valid manner;
– Assessors conducting assessment against particular National Competency Standards (NCS’s) do so using comparable assessment methods and reach consistent judgments about learners’ performance.
There are two types of moderation:
1. Internal moderation
This level of moderation involves moderation of assessments within a PSET Provider. It can occur among assessors at a single site, multiple sites or among Provider’s registered workplace assessors. This type helps to ensure consistency of assessments within Providers over time and among assessors.
2. External Moderation
This level of Moderation takes a national perspective of how assessment decisions and approaches are consistent among assessors. This type is usually conducted by a Qualifications Agency and involves the contribution of PSET Providers and Assessors. External Moderation is intended to ensure that quality of assessment activities against NCS’s is consistent nationally.
Hence, National External Moderation is a process that helps to ensure consistency of judgments across PSET providers at the national level. The judgments made by different assessors on similar NCS must be comparable. NEM procedures will ensure the consistency of assessment across Providers and workplace assessors.
Employers will want to know that the same standard has been achieved, regardless of the training institution or workplace assessment.
The SQA coordinates the external moderation of assessment against NCS’s, to maintain the integrity of the NCS, and the Samoa Qualifications (SQ’s) awarded.
Moderation is the fourth element of the Quality Standards for PSET
The SQA provides QUALITY ASSURANCE services to enhance the quality of PSET. QUALITY ASSURANCE in education is defined as: “ All planned activity which ensures that the educational services of an organization are being delivered effectively and efficiently and are in line with published goals and objectives.”
QUALITY ASSURANCE PROCESSES
There are FOUR main processes in Quality Assurance
- PROVIDER REGISTRATION
- PROGRAMME ACCREDITATION
- QUALITY AUDIT
- NON FORMAL LEARNING
- PSET PROVIDER REGISTRATION PROCESS
It is an evaluation of the capability of an organisation to provide and maintain a well organised, sound and stable learning environment encompassing all its modes of delivery. It is a process that examines the basic organisation and ensures that it is established for:
- educational purposes,
- has suitable management structures and systems ,
- has the necessary resources to provide educational programmes to the required standards
2. WHY IS PROVIDER REGISTRATION IMPORTANT?
When a Provider is Registered?
- It indicates that it operates on quality systems and processes
- It guarantees value for the money spent on PSET
- It indicates that the organisation has the cabability to provide quality PSET and has set itself up as a legitimate Provider in Samoa
- Qualifications can be recognised internationally
3. WHO IS REQUIRED TO REGISTER?
Provider Registration is under Part VI, Section 18, of the Samoa Qualifications Act 2010 subsection (1) provides that the governing body of any organisation, whether established inside or outside of Samoa, may apply to the Authority for – registration of the organization as a formal Post School Educationa and Training (PSET) provider for the purposes of this Act. Section 20 (1) …..any provider must apply for registration and comply with quality standards if such provider falls into one(1) or more of the following categories;
- Provides an education and training programme that leads to a qualification registered on the SQF
- Receives or applies for funding from government or any other donor through the Government for education and training programme designed to meet the requirements of qualifications
- Uses or wishes to use a protected term in the name of the organization or in the names of any of the courses, programmes or qualifications that it provides;
- Enrolls foreign students for a period of more than two months in the aggregate, in the calendar year in the any of the education and training programmes it provides;
- Is a Samoa-based organisation providing programmes or courses in Samoa through cross-border arrangement with a foreign based provider using any arrangement such as double or joint degree, twinning or franchising
- Is an organization based in a foreign country that wishes to provide education and training programmes in Samoa.
Programme Accreditation is the process used to evaluate an organisation’s capability of delivering an education or training programme to the required standards. Programme Accreditation is conducted by selected accreditation panel of qualified members who have completed a training on the process. Providers will be required to conduct an internal self evaluation prior to submitting each application for programme accreditation. Requirements for Programme Accreditation include the requirements for registering the associated qualifications or qualifications on the Samoa Qualifications Framework (SQF)
WHY IS PROGRAMME ACCREDITATION IMPORTANT?
- guarantees quality education and training programmes are offered by a Provider
- indicates quality in the organization
– programme development and review
– programme delivery
– financial resources
– learner information, entry and support
– physical and learning resources
– assessment and moderation
– reporting and learner achievement
- guarantees value for learners money spent on education and training
- results in registration of qualifications on the Samoa Qualifications Framework (SQF)
LISTED NFEPs WITH SQA
There are currently twenty nine (29) Non Formal Learning Providers (NFEP) listed with SQA after having their Non Formal Learning Activities recognized with the SQA
BENEFITS OF RECOGNITION OF NON FORMAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES
Recognition of non formal learning generates four different types of benefits:
• RNFL generate economic benefits by reducing the direct and opportunity costs of formal learning and allowing human capital to be more used productively.
• RNFL provides educational benefits that can underpin lifelong learning and career
• RNFL derives social benefits by improving equity and strengthening access to both further education and the labour market, for disadvantaged groups, disaffected youth and older workers
• RNFL provides psychological benefits by making individuals aware of their capabilities and validating their worth.