Original Research

Towards a culture of quality assurance in optometric education in sub-Saharan Africa

Vanessa R. Moodley
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 78, No 1 | a462 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v78i1.462 | © 2019 Vanessa R. Moodley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2018 | Published: 06 March 2019

About the author(s)

Vanessa R. Moodley, Department of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: New optometry education programmes in sub-Saharan Africa share a responsibility for blindness prevention by virtue of producing the countries first practitioners. Programmes need to be relevant and of a high quality to ensure sustainability. A quality culture is not a single event involving an accreditation audit but an integrated continuous system across core academic areas and accepted by all concerned in the programme.

Aim: The aim was to determine the extent to which quality assurance is integrated into the 11 participating optometry education programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Setting: The study was conducted in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: A qualitative approach, employing a phenomenological design was used in the study. Key academics in leadership were purposively selected and then consented to participate in interviews covering the core academic areas, namely, governance, recruitment and selection, teaching and learning, curriculum design, staff development, research, community-based training and student support. Transcribed data was iteratively analysed.

Results: Only one sub-Saharan country undergoes the three levels of quality audits within a regulated optometric environment. Despite a few pockets of best practices in some core areas, there was a reported general lack of quality assurance initiatives, national guidelines and adequate leadership capacity.

Conclusion: This study highlighted the absence of regulatory authorities and mandatory quality audits, which contribute to the general lack of a quality culture in optometry programmes. Schools should aim to embed a culture of quality that produces competent, socially relevant graduates and impactful research. It is recommended that schools at national, regional and global levels collaborate towards the development of a quality assurance culture across optometry education programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.


Keywords

quality assurance; optometric education; quality teaching and learning; higher education

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