From a small team to a nationally and internationally recognized organization. This is the story of the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC) over the last 17 years. Tracing the development of the BAC over the years is not difficult, with long-standing employees and Board members who were there from the beginning to chronicle its story.
On the occasion of our 17th anniversary, here is a fun Q&A with Board Member Mr. Herbert Gittens and the Manager of Technical Services, Mrs. Sharon Alleyne, to give two perspectives on being a part of the organization all of these years.
Do you remember what the BAC was like in the early days?
Herbert Gittens: Before the BAC, there was an Equivalency Committee in the Ministry of Education. This committee would review qualifications and terms of reference. This committee then started to hire staff to establish the BAC, after the Act in 2004.
Sharon Alleyne: The steady progress of the BAC began with a small team of less than ten staff members in 2006. These included the Executive Director, two Accreditation Officers, the Maid, Clerk/Typist, Driver/Messenger, Information Officer, and Administrative Officer 1.
How was the role of the BAC back then different from today?
Herbert Gittens: The main tasks were verifying qualifications and establishing links with other organizations globally, getting the BAC established by various entities and having the entities registered.
Sharon Alleyne: Primarily, our tasks were to develop the necessary policies, procedures and systems required to achieve the BAC’s mandate and establish relationships with local post-secondary/tertiary educational providers. We also had to ensure that our standards aligned with international best practices in external quality assurance. We achieved this through a process of benchmarking. Additionally, to build capacity within the BAC, the Accreditation Officers undertook study attachments with sister agencies in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and later in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The purpose was to learn more about operating an effective external quality assurance agency and then apply the knowledge and competencies gained to the BAC’s operations.
Herbert Gittens: This progress could not be made possible without the assistance of other Caribbean external quality assurance bodies. The University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) aided in the structuring until standards and criteria were internationally benchmarked.
Sharon Alleyne: Due to the UCJ’s early founding in 1987, they were used as a model for us to become one of the best QA agency in region. As we became better at what we did, QA bodies in other islands have looked to us as the standard in the last 17 years.
What has been the Council’s greatest achievement?
Herbert Gittens: Achievements to name would be the accreditation of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, The University of the West Indies, Open Campus, and recognition of awarding bodies such as CMA and ACCA.
Sharon Alleyne: The BAC’s greatest achievement for me would include the continuous growth of the organisation, to the point where other agencies across the Caribbean see us as contributors in setting the regional standards in quality assurance. Additionally, the improvements we have seen in the local post-secondary/tertiary educational landscape through the work we have done to date with our educational providers.
Where do you see the Council in the future?
Herbert Gittens: I want to see the organization establish itself as BAQA because quality assurance is very important. Where the country is now and with CSME, along with the kind of movement we have been seeing across the global market, it is important that we have this type of institution. Also, with this movement, it is now more important than ever to point out fraudulent qualifications and make sure persons bring true and good qualifications.
Sharon Alleyne: I see us reaching a point where we will have all the systems that we need in place to become a top tier agency globally regarding all things quality assurance and quality enhancement. When people think of quality assurance for tertiary education and training, I want the first thought that comes to their minds to be of the BAC.
Thank you to Mrs. Alleyne, Mr. Gittens and all of the other long-standing members of the BAC, who continuously take the Council to new heights!
Barbados Accreditation Council