Why students must avoid unaccredited institutions

Tuesday March 20 2018

Students from Uganda Technical Institute,

Students from Uganda Technical Institute, Bushenyi during one of their lectures at the campus last year. Vocational students are cautioned against acquiring papers from institutes that are not accredited. File photo  

By Desire Mbabaali

Whereas some institutions in the past institutions and presently as well as members of society have passed on technical and vocational skills without certification or approval, it is important that one’s skills and institution are accredited by the Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) to avoid future disruptions in one’s career.
Nevertheless, with that need for institutions to be accredited, some of them have not surrendered to the recommendation to be accredited putting their own students at a disadvantage.
John Baptist Mangeni for example gained his carpentry skills from a famous carpentry shop in his village.

“At the time, it was all we could afford. At the workshop, many boys on the village gained skills in carpentry at the workshop which went by the owner’s name. Over the years, it expanded to accommodate more than 100 students who indeed gained skills but without the papers,” he explains.
However, Mangeni never realised the implications of his ‘paperless’ skills until his relative found him a job in one of the furniture workshops in Kampala that required him to sign a contract on condition that he produced his documents.

“I lacked some of the skills, considering where I had received my training, however, the overriding factor was to produce the documents for my skills, which I did not,” he explains. This meant that he had to settle for doing things like cleaning the workshop, moving furniture here and there, and never putting his skills to use. After months of doing that, he was lucky to receive an offer from a relative, to go to an accredited institutions to gain more skills.
Mangeni is currently doing a carpentry and joinery course at St Charles Lwanga Technical Institute, Butende.

In addition to other challenges that students studying from unaccredited institutions face is denial of work from the public service. Dr Wilfred Nahamya Karukuza, head of the directorate of research and quality at UBTEB, adds that, “Once you do such a programme that is not accredited from an unaccredited institution, you cannot be taken on in the public service, because your documents and course was not nationally assessed further still, one cannot be able to go for vertical academic progress.”
This, therefore, means that one cannot upgrade to a degree or for other post graduate studies, not to mention this being illegal.

Onesmus Oyesigye, executive secretary UBTEB, notes that a circular was issued to all institutions to come under the assessment of UBTEB.

“Though many institutions have complied, some of have not conformed to this directive,” Oyesigye says. Recently, UBTEB accredited 91 more institutions and still implores others to comply to the call with the aim of ensuring quality and a uniform assessment to all institutions.

Dr Nahamya further cautions students against institutions that are continuing to teach one year courses for post ordinary level certificates. “All UBTEB accredited institutions offer two-year programmes – so that is one indicator that the institution is not accredited. This does not matter whether it is a university or an institution. As long as their post ordinary level certificate is one year, that should raise questions,” he notes.

All institutions should be able to fulfil the requirements below before accreditation;
•A certificate of registration or a license of the institution by the Ministry of Education and Sports or proof that the institution is government aided or government founded.
•A letter of recommendation from the District or Municipal education officer.

•An appropriate strong room in which to keep examination materials (from UBTEB) forwarded to the institution before commencement of the examinations.
•An examination hall or large classrooms each of which can accommodate a minimum of thirty (30) candidates at one sitting.
•Functional workshops or laboratories relevant to the programmes offered.
•A functional aquaculture unit, fish processing unit and boat yard for the case of Fisheries Training Institutions.

•A functional garden and laboratory for agricultural institutions.
•A functional herbarium or nursery bed for forestry institutions;
•An ex-situ for wild life training institutions.
•A functional calibration network or baseline for lands management and survey institutions.
•A functional meteorological station for meteorological institutions.
•Firefighting equipment placed in strategic places in case of fire outbreaks and fire escape routes;

•Technical staff to manage the academic programmes to be examined and an approved curriculum by the National Curriculum Development Centre and or accreditation by National Council for Higher Education.
•Sufficient furniture such as tables, desks, benches and chairs to be used in examination halls, workshops and laboratories.
•An equipped typing pool for business institutions instructing secretarial and stenography courses.
•An equipped radio studio and photo studio for journalism courses.
•An equipped salon for cosmetology courses; and all other minimum standards issued in respect of any other field from time to time by the Board with approval of the minister.

Procedure for accreditation
A training institution shall obtain an application form for accreditation and registration from UBTEB at a non-refundable fee determined by the Board. Filled copies of the application form shall be returned for further verification within a period of two weeks.
The Board shall upon inspection and satisfaction that the training institution complies with the accreditation requirements, issue a Certificate of Accreditation as proof of status as an examination centre.

The centre shall prepare a report on maintenance of the standards for accreditation which the Board shall review annually to ensure that the minimum standards are maintained.
The Board reserves the right to suspend and/or withdraw an examination centre if it ceases to satisfy the accreditation requirements, regulations and ethical standards of an accredited examination centre.