EDITORIAL COMMENT: Govt must address issue of illegal colleges urgently

Government’s decision to allow teachers’ colleges to offer degree programmes is a very welcome development given the number of high school graduates that schools are churning out every year. A number of pupils with good A-level passes are failing to proceed to university because of the limited places available. This challenge will soon be a thing of the past once teachers’ colleges start offering degree programmes. The increase in the number of institutions offering degree programmes should however not compromise standards hence we fully support University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor, Professor Levy Nyagura’s position that only those colleges that meet the required standards should be allowed to offer degree programmes.

Professor Nyagura who is also the chairperson of the taskforce that was set up to spearhead the transformation of higher and tertiary institutions into degree offering institutions, said his committee had come up with stringent measures to ensure standards are met.

He said those colleges aspiring to offer degree programmes should ensure that they meet the required standards before considering offering degree programmes. “We will support 100 percent the ministry’s initiative to let colleges offer degree programmes provided the expected conditions are met,” said Professor Nyagura.

He said his committee will therefore not allow colleges that do not meet the required standards to offer degree programmes as doing so will be compromising quality and standards. Professor Nyagura said the programme to prepare colleges to offer degree programmes was expected to start next January and the expectations were that the diploma in education would be structured in such a way that by the time the students complete their period of study, they have attained development in a discipline up to the second year level of an honours degree of the UZ.

Professor Nyagura said colleges that want to offer degree programmes should be involved in research so that they contribute to problem-solving and innovation. He said the challenge therefore was to make Zimbabwe competitive internationally and this was only possible if high standards are set in higher education with regards to offering degree programmes.

Professor Nyagura said the UZ had restructured its curriculum and strengthened the quality of the products it produces and expects the same from its affiliates. Zimbabwe’s graduates are sought after the world over because the universities are producing high quality products and as such standards should not be compromised.

It is against this background that we want to implore the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development to address the issue of colleges that are operating illegally or have not regularised their programmes in terms of the law. It is such institutions which compromise standards. We call upon the ministry to act with speed to ensure these institutions comply with the law and meet the required benchmarks to offer the programmes.

According to the Ministry, a number of institutions across the country are either operating illegally or have not regularised their programmes in terms of the law.

We want to once again urge the colleges that aspire to offer degree programmes to adequately prepare so that their graduates are sought after globally as is the case now. Zimbabwean professionals produced by our universities are occupying strategic international offices in different parts of the globe and we want to maintain this status quo.

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