The ATLIB National Articulation Framework Committee was formed in 2007, and its membership consists of all 12 tertiary level institutions in the country. Today representatives from Muffles Junior College, St John’s Junior College, Belize Adventist Junior College, Corozal Junior College, Wesley Junior College, the University of Belize, University of the West Indies Open Campus, Independence Junior College, Sacred Heart Junior College, Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College, Galen University and Centro Escolar Mexico all gathered to discuss a way forward on the issue of credit transfers from one institution to the other.
The ATLIB National Articulation Framework Committee is chaired by Dean of Muffles College Adrian Leiva and Dr. Angel Cal of the University of Belize.
Leiva told us that the ATLIB National Articulation Framework Committee has been hard at work for the past four years. The committee, Leiva explained, mainly seeks to generate a system where the transfer of credit hours can be accepted and facilitated by all tertiary institutions.
Adrian Leiva - Dean Muffles Junior College
“Now what is happening is that in tertiary education today in Belize, we haven’t really come up with a plan in which students can very smoothly transfer their credit within institutions and across institutions and this problem became of more concern in 2007, after institution have introduced the CAPE program and the University of Belize was not aware of the changes and so in the year 2007 there was a difficulty arose when some students were unable to transfer their credits, in fact even today in the community we still hear murmurs of what happened. We immediately meet to discuss this matter as a matter of emergency and the result of that meeting was the formation of what today we call “Atlib Articulation Framework Committee” which is co-chaired by Dr. Angel Cal of the University of Belize and by me as Dean of Muffles College. The work of this committee has been going on for four years and today at Muffles Junior College what we are doing is that all the Sub-committees that meet to look at course transfers and the delivery of courses in institutions are making their major presentations so that now students can feel sure that each school is making its utmost to make sure that their credit can transfer smoothly.”
The committee seeks to build a system of modules that will ensure that all institutions are on the same page when it comes to syllabus so that when transferring credit hours for a subject, the institution sought can rest assured that the subject was thoroughly covered.
To ensure quality where each subject is concerned, ten sub-committees have been formed. These committees are to analyze and create quality modules in the areas of chemistry, information technology, biology, English, business science, mathematics, tourism studies, history, natural resource management, and general education core.
As each committee analyzes each institution’s syllabi the bench mark implemented is the University of Belize’s course standards.
Dr. Angel Cal- Quality Assurance Officer UB
“We are of the opinion that the subject specialists are really very knowledgeable of their field and so what we do is that we invite participation from all junior colleges who offer a given discipline. For example if Muffles offers an Associate’s Degree in Biology then the expectation is that Muffles will fully participate in the Biology theme. The national themes of which there are ten are all coordinated at this time by U.B.”
The modules formed will be available for use by all tertiary institutions, but would not be mandatory. The committee seeks to achieve that at least 80% of each module is followed by tertiary level institutions.
Dr. Angel Cal- Quality Assurance Officer UB
“Developed Associate Degree Programs, these modules Associate Degree Programs are intended to capture the best if what an Associate Degree Program ought to be in a given discipline. We will come up with the National modules individual institutions need not be straight jacketed they don’t necessarily have to accept the modules they can choose to continue doing exactly what they have been doing today if that’s what they want. Naturally the whole purpose of this is to encourage institutions to use the modules as examples of good practice of good quality. The expectation though is that we are going to have a network of institutions formally signing into an agreement which says that they will recognise a program that is at least 80% of the module or more.”
On the local front, Muffles Junior College presently follows a North American structure, not the CAPE format. This has enabled credit hour transfers from Muffles Junior College to be accepted at almost all North American universities and some tertiary institutions in the country.
Adrian Leiva- Dean Muffles Junior College
“What happened in 2005 is that Government of Belize signed on through CARICOM to a Cape Associates’ Degree Program, in other words, the CARICOM countries agree that they will recognize a new Associates Degree Program called CAPE, is pattern after the CXC set format and because was a signed on to an agreement we felt compelled to redesign our programs to meet those requirements. I don’t want to attack any system, I think we should always support when we are looking at new ways of doing things because change will always be in our lives so we welcome that, as higher education institutions we are suppose to be encouraging it, however, I must admit that the program structure did not allow for easy transfer, it would create problems not only at UB but even in North American Institutions, in Canada and the United states because it is modular in nature, in other words, if you are going to take a course in Computer Science, let us say, one course entails like taking it in three sections . Three sections eat up three courses and students need to take up other courses, other general education courses like Psychology, Human Biology, College Algebra and what they did it limited the number of courses that we were able to give the student. We realize that limitation and so Muffles is one of those Institutions that have already gone back to the original North American structure. We have enjoyed over the years the benefits of complete transfers; we have graduates that have transferred to the University of St. Louis. Total seventy two credit hours or in those Universities or the other COBEC Institutions. We have adopted bag, if anybody goes to our website and checks our catalogue, we don’t have a CAPE structure we follow a North American structure because it creates latitude.”
The ATLIB National Articulation Framework Committee’s meeting today had the support of the Ministry of Education who sent a representative.