Accreditation vs. non-accreditation
By AfriGO Team
A Nigerian pastor* with a doctorate from a Canadian institution applied to teach at a Bible school in Botswana. However, his application was rejected without even an interview. Why? The Canadian programme was an online school with no accreditation. Not only was the teaching standard questionable, but the degree did not meet the qualifications to get a visa. This scenario is happening to many Africans who desire to serve the Lord in other countries.
Before you get training, ask yourself what your purpose is. If you will work in your own country, then you will not need a visa. However, to work in other countries, an accredited degree may be a visa requirement.
What is an accredited school? It is one which meets academic standards set by the government or an evaluating body. It complies with criteria such as number of credentialed professors and quality of curriculum. This not only puts a stamp of approval on the school, it also assures others that its graduates possess a certain level of knowledge, skills or abilities.
How can you be sure an institution is accredited? The school should tell you its credentials. If the school is in another country, ask someone from that country to help you determine its status.
Brian DeVries, Dean at Mukhanyo Theological School in Johannesburg, warns that many new institutions offer quick results for little money and time. Very low cost is a red flag. If a school offers a bachelor’s degree in two years and a master’s degree in another year, it is not likely legitimate.
A well-regarded school in your country may not be well-regarded overseas. Check with ministry leaders in the place you hope to serve. Enquire about acceptability of your school if you are aiming for a higher degree, and whether the denominational theology of your school will suit your ministry organization. Watch out for prosperity gospel church schools as well.
In summary, we urge you to fully investigate any school, in order to ensure what your money is purchasing. A fancy website or a good vision statement is no guarantee of accreditation. Do not let a scholarship be the only factor in your choice. A free education that does not yield the result you need is also a waste. Consider carefully what you need, seek advice, and ask God to reveal wise choices which will lead you along His path for you.
*Names and places are changed.
AFRICA’S ASSOCIATION FOR THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION ENSURES HIGH STANDARDS
The Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa, or ACTEA, has provided accreditation to theological schools and programmes across Africa since 1976. Its vision is to see theological education flourishing at a high standard, sustainable, Christ-centred, and interconnected such that scholars across the continent can mutually support and benefit one another. ACTEA can assist your theological school or programme to achieve its quest for excellence and renewal.
ACTEA accreditation standards can be viewed here: https://acteaweb.org/application-forms/