The Kiribati Institute of Technology (KIT), one of the regions leading tertiary institutions, has been granted accreditation as a higher education and training institution by the Pacific Board for Educational Quality (PBEQ). This accreditation is an elevation of KIT’s status as a provisionally accredited institution, and represents one of the first accreditations awarded to an institution from a small Pacific nation.
While larger Pacific countries like Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea have set up national quality assurance agencies, the majority of smaller island countries have not been able to follow suit due to limited funding and the relatively small size of their higher education sectors. This left institutions like KIT without the ability to obtain the accreditation required for the institutions graduates to have their degrees recognized outside of Kiribati.
Lack of access to accreditation and quality assurance mechanisms has been a long standing challenge for many Pacific nations, and it is an issue that the Pacific Community (SPC), through its Education, Quality and Assessment Program (EQAP), has invested in solving. The development of the regionally recognized Pacific Qualification Framework (PQF) and Pacific Quality Assurance Framework (PQAF), now provides smaller countries with access to accreditation and quality assurance mechanisms that are not only recognized and practiced regionally, but internationally as well.
Agustin de la Varga, SPC EQAP’s Principal Adviser, congratulated KIT by saying that ‘This is the first time that an institution from the Pacific went through the full accreditation process, from a provisional accreditation to a full accreditation. This process was vital for the Pacific, because through KIT’s accreditation, we can show other Pacific Island Countries that it is possible for their institutions to get accredited institutions and at the same time remind them of the benefits accredited institutions bring to their countries.’
The Government of Kiribati has passed a Cabinet decision to adopt the Pacific Qualification Framework (PQF) and Pacific Quality Assurance Framework (PQAF) as Kiribati’s first qualifications and quality assurance frameworks. The decision allowed SPC to provide external accreditation services for qualifications and providers across Kiribati.
According to Peter Langbien, Director of KIT, ‘It is a very proud moment for KIT because our goal is to produce a capable, qualified and mobile work force and one way to do that is to ensure that all that we do in our teaching, practices and systems is quality assured. This process enables us to benchmark ourselves against other institutes from around the Pacific and ensure what we doing is in line with best practices.’
In March 2017, the PBEQ had granted provisional accreditation to KIT. Within a period of one year, KIT complied with the conditions of provisional accreditation and applied to transit from a provisionally accredited to a fully accredited institution. The new accreditation will be valid for 5 years and signifies the Pacific region’s recognition of KIT as a provider of higher education and training.
With its new accreditation in place, graduates of KIT will have more opportunities to make a contribution in their field of study within Kiribati, throughout the region, and around the world.