Before discussing the AETAL Academic Recognition Program, we clarify that there is a clear difference between Affiliation and Recognition.
The first step to joining AETAL is through the application for membership. Any duly organized theological institution, acting in any Latin American country, may request its affiliation. The process takes place with the analysis of all the required documentation of the institution (or its sponsor), resulting in the approval or not of its affiliation.
More than 100 institutions have been approved so far, and there are rare cases of denial. The process of affiliation does not take into account the application system of teaching, the faculty or the physical structure of the applicant, only analyzes the documentation of the institution. Without knowing this, many schools, unfortunately, consider themselves unfit to apply for membership. To be affiliated with AETAL is to be part of a respected continental association, having the opportunity to participate in activities that focus on development in theological education and enjoy exclusive benefits.
AETAL, also as a Theological Schools Recognition Agency, presents more accurate criteria and greater requirements for the Academic Recognition Program (PRA). The PRA is intended for institutions that have already undergone affiliation process and are in regular operation. The PRA has no link with the legal recognition offered by the Ministry of Education and Culture – MEC, since the propositions are different. The purpose of the PRA is to publicly assure and prove the excellence of the education offered by the affiliated institution. The process begins with a self-assessment of the institution that ascertains if its educational practice is fulfilling its mission, its educational philosophy and its established objectives (internal audit). After this analysis, the institution is ready to verify if the levels of the courses offered by it correspond to the standards defined jointly by the related institutions (external audit).
Among the benefits of PRA are:
a) offer the opportunity for a healthy and complete self-evaluation of the institution;
b) facilitate cooperation between institutions (with transfer of credits between institutions);
c) connect the institution to larger networks, such as AETAL and ICETE.
We currently have few institutions that have recognition and others in process. Perhaps the low demand for the PRA is due to the fear in the academic environment regarding procedures that demand many demands and also because they do not solve quickly, which does not mean that it will compromise the activities of the institution.
The PRA is laborious and the instances in the process are gradual. However, it is precisely these demands that generate the certainty that an institution recognized by AETAL is, in fact, a reference in the continental theological environment. There are many institutions that are fully capable of being recognized by AETAL, but because of their fear they do not seek recognition.
Again, it is also intended to encourage already affiliated schools to seek recognition and thus be part of a select group of recognized schools, further enhancing their credibility and their reference in the continental theological environment.
The recognition process lasts for at least a year, and has its operating costs with the members of the Recognition Committee. Upon approval, there is a small annual maintenance fee for recognition.
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