The series of CAEP National Meetings on National Qualification Frameworks (NQF) and Quality Assurance & Accreditation (QAA) reached its conclusion today after a two-day event in Tashkent, attended by over 30 Uzbek senior officers and experts from the Higher Education and VET sectors as well as representatives from the National Erasmus+ Office and Higher Education Reform Experts (HERE).
Following similar events in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, on the 26th September Mr. Uzokboy Begimkulov, Deputy Minister of Higher and Specialised Secondary Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan, opened the two days of meetings, the first focusing on NQF and the second on QAA. Mr Radoslaw Darski, Chargé d’Affaires and Head of Political, Press and Information Section, gave opening remarks on behalf of the European Union Delegation to Uzbekistan, which supported the event. The meeting received wide media coverage and was covered by national television.
The aim of these meetings is to support the process of professionalisation and modernisation of education in the region by sharing EU expertise, facilitating policy dialogue at national level and exploring opportunities for development in the field in each country.
The meeting was facilitated by Uzbek moderators along with experts from the CAEP Team and involved lively and frank presentations from Latvian, Polish and Romanian participants, highlighting both the successes and the difficulties of the reforms implemented in their respective countries. This “sharing experience” approach encouraged participation and led to productive debate and concrete outcomes in terms of priorities for future collaboration at both policy and technical levels.
The first day was dedicated to reviewing the Uzbek Qualifications System, including the significant changes introduced in the last decade which have made it more flexible, more closely based on the learning outcomes approach, and nearer to the establishment of an overarching National Qualifications Framework, a project in the pipeline according to Ministry representatives. To prepare the ground, a survey of qualification requirements has been launched by the National Coordinating Council for the NQF and a major international comparison exercise has been conducted. The experiences of participating EU Member States were critically reviewed and considered a very good basis of know-how to be used in the further development of the Uzbek Framework.
Among the past and present challenges that were recognized were:
• A generalised understanding of the concept and benefits of a NQF by all stakeholders in education and the business world;
• The need to reflect the new concept in existing legislation, and to adapt existing mechanisms in both HE and VET;
• The difficulty in specifying qualification levels within early education;
• The continuing updating of qualifications;
• The recognition and validation of skills and competences in the academic sector;
• Increasing HEI’s autonomy in curricula definition to allow more flexibility for learners and local labour markets;
• The recognition of credits achieved through international mobility.
The second day of the National Meeting focused on Quality Assurance and Accreditation: a presentation by two experts from the Uzbek Ministry of Higher and Specialised Secondary Education on the effect of the President’s 2017 five-year plan to improve qualifications, was followed by inputs from EU experts and an open discussion. The link between QA, Accreditation and the availability of a well-designed and updated Qualification Framework was underlined several times along with the necessity of developing the culture and skills for internal Quality Assurance.
Most importantly, it was recognized that having a range of views on the definition of quality within education is not only legitimate, but also necessary, if all stakeholders are to be involved in a continuing effort to improve learning processes and outcomes. This led to a debate on how to find the right balance between top-down inputs (legislation, national standards and criteria, coordinating offices/structures) and bottom-up processes (stakeholder dialogue, self-assessment, peer-review, autonomous internal QA development, independent accreditation), both necessary for sustainable implementation and government and stakeholder commitment.
At the end of the discussion, issues were identified which will feed into planned regional Peer Learning activities on QA and Accreditation, in which representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will exchange developments and best practice in the sector:
• How to guarantee quality of ICT use in education;
• How to assess the quality of libraries and laboratories in the age of ICT;
• HE-VET collaboration on Quality Assurance;
• The quality of employment offices in educational institutions;
• How periodic teacher accreditation works abroad;
• From quality of inputs to quality of learning outcomes;
• External QA from inspection to support processes;
• Involving students and employers in internal QA.
Over the course of the two days the Uzbek participants showed a great deal of interest in the process established by the National Meeting and a high level of motivation to involve further collaboration in the modernisation of the Uzbek education system, and concluded by requesting the support of CAEP to continue moving forward.
Please see the event page for the agenda, materials and photos of the meeting.