CGA Program of Professional Studies Used As Model
KEEN TO UPGRADE: More than two dozen accounting teachers in San Salvador participated in a week-long seminar offered by a team of experts, including a CGA-Canada representative. “They were all very interested and hungry for information,” said one seminar leader. “And now they are certainly much more aware of what needs to be done and how to move ahead.”
Offer it and they will come!
That was clearly the case when the expertise of CGA-Canada was brought to Central America by the World Bank for five weeks in 2008. The project’s aim is to improve the quality of university accounting programs in five countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica. Earlier World Bank-sponsored forays into the region had revealed a pressing need to modernize the programs. Many are decades behind accounting offerings in North America.
Up to 40 teachers in each country attended week-long seminars designed to help them incorporate international standards and best practices into their accounting and business programs.
“Improving the quality of accounting education will help to increase the transparency and value of the financial information produced in the region,” noted one of the project’s leaders. “This will in turn improve governance, in both the corporate and public sectors, and deter fraudulent and corrupt practices. Ultimately, it should mean that these countries will receive greater access to regional and global credit.”
Two of the project’s three phases were completed in 2008.
Phase 1, conducted over two weeks in the summer, involved evaluating the accounting education programs offered by a representative sample of public and private universities. The goal was to understand the characteristics of each program and the challenges each university faces, whether financial, cultural or institutional. International accounting, auditing and education standards were used as key benchmarks.
Phase 2, conducted over three weeks in the winter, focused on capacity development for teachers, practitioners and civil servants. This phase involved sharing the conclusions reached from Phase 1 with a larger group. It helped to expand local awareness of the gap between existing programs and international best practices. A CGA representative and a regional consultant analyzed the gaps and detailed what needs to be done to raise the quality of the programs. The week-long seminars offered to teachers explored professional ethics, corporate governance, the conceptual framework for accounting and auditing standards, as well as the latest changes and trends in rules and professional practice. A CD containing all presentations was given to participants, along with a copy of IFAC’s guide on auditing small and medium-sized entities.
Beyond the technical content required, the seminars addressed the pedagogical changes needed, as principles-based international standards replace rules-based accounting. The need to develop judgment skills and to keep up with ever-changing standards was also emphasized.
CGA-Canada’s Program of Professional Studies was frequently used as a model to show what high-quality course delivery and student assessment look like.
The seminars also provided a valuable opportunity for the teachers to network. The lack of local resources revealed that the region’s universities would greatly benefit from increased collaboration.
Phase3, slated for 2009, will involve additional knowledge sharing. This final phase of the project will ensure that the project’s key findings and numerous resources are shared with a broad range of universities and other vital stakeholders throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
[ TOP ]