Barbados has been described as "fortunate" to have its accreditation council fully operational.

This accolade came yesterday as CARICOM Representative and Specialist with the Movement of Skills/Labour at the CSME Unit, Steve Mac Andrew, addressed the start of a regional workshop for external/peer evaluators, at the Blue Horizon Hotel, Christ Church.

Commending the workshop to participants, he said: "The focus in Barbados will be more on strengthening the human resource capability and awareness, because Barbados is in the fortunate position to have a fully operational accreditation agency, namely the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC)."

He said: "A key element of our regional integration process, more specifically, the CARICOM Single Market, is the free movement of 10 categories of wage earners and the full free movement of non-wage earners, meaning self-employed persons, who are moving to set up a business or to provide a service.

"Accreditation of tertiary education and tertiary education programmes and also the determination of the equivalency of qualifications have, therefore, become critical, because CARICOM Nationals have studied and are studying in many different parts of the world, but regionally there are also differences with respect to tertiary education programmes and institutions."

Explaining that it was through accreditation and determination of equivalency that a person’s real eligibility for free movement would be established, Mr. Mac Andrew stressed: "A person will not qualify if the institution or programme was not accredited or if the qualification was not equivalent to at least an associate degree."

The three-day, training of external evaluators is being conducted as part of a project aimed at addressing immediate needs identified by accreditation agencies and relevant stakeholders in a number of CARICOM states. It is being implemented under the Caribbean Institutional Support Programme with support from the European Union under its 9th European Development Fund.

The regional initiative seeks, among other things, to build and strengthen the human resource capability of National Accreditation Bodies (NABs), through training of assessors (where the need exists) in techniques and practices related to quality evaluation.

It will also develop accreditation systems and processes for these entities and train and expose their policy makers, management, staff and key stakeholders to the effective functioning of world class accreditation bodies. The workshop also aims to increase awareness among key stakeholders in each national system of issues related to quality assurance and accreditation.

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