HERQA to force health officers’ competency assurance

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The Ethiopian Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) will soon start mandating that higher educational institutions which offer degree programs in health science test professionals for competency.
The agency worked with stakeholders like the Ministry of Health and the Health Professionals Association to prepare a strategic document to ensure quality in the health sector at the university level.
The new program also aspires to audit the colleges and universities at the program level while inspecting the quality and competence of professionals.
Once the new program is put into effect, health graduates from higher educational institutions with a bachelor degree or above will not be allowed to work unless they score at a certain level on the competency test. The Health Professionals Association which is made up of seven different health specialties will establish the minimum requirements to pass the exam.
After testing for standards is implemented in health, other professions will be targeted, according to Tesfaye Teshome, director general of the agency. “We wanted to start with health given that the professionals will be dealing directly with human life which demands a high level of competency from teachers and students,” he said.
A clinical health student from Africa Medical College, whom Capital talked, questioned the qualifications of the instructors. “There are times when a diploma holder appears to be an instructor for us. How can that be? I cannot be confident enough about the training I am receiving so I am now looking for another college hoping that there is a better one,” he told Capital.
Even though the agency did not yet make any specific deadline about when the program will start to be implemented, they hope to start it during the current academic year. “We cannot say it will start this specific month. But we are quite sure that we will enter into implementation in 2014/15,” Tesfaye told Capital.
Currently only Technical and Vocational Training Institutions require their students to sit for competency tests.