THE Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development is working on unfreezing posts in tertiary institutions to improve standards.
Speaking to lecturers and University Staff at Midlands State University (MSU) yesterday, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said only lecturers with at least a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) in their respective disciplines would be engaged if the Ministry successfully lobbies for the unfreezing of the posts.
Prof Moyo said there was a need for universities to fill vacant posts that have been either created by an increase in student enrolment or any other reason to ensure the standard and quality of education in the country is enhanced.
“We’re negotiating with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to see if they can unfreeze posts for tertiary institutions. However, it should be noted that once these vacancies are unfrozen, only those with PhDs shall be recruited by Universities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof Moyo said his ministry had approached the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to assist with the facilitation of an Infrastructural bond for students and staff at higher and tertiary institutions.
He said all state universities, polytechnics and teachers’ colleges were in dire need of accommodation for students and staff.
Prof Moyo said when taken together, these institutions have a combined maximum enrolment of 194,520 students requiring 414 hostels with 10,464 lecturing staff and 12,453 non-academic staff requiring 21, 360 houses.
“The shortage of student accommodation at Zimbabwe’s higher and tertiary educational institutions is now so critical that it doesn’t only risk compromising the quality of education offered by these institutions, but it also might engender social disorder and national security,” he said.
The government has restored grants to tertiary institutions following an intervention by President Mugabe who directed Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa to reverse the decision to cut tertiary institutions grants by 50 percent which came into force at the beginning of August.
The cutting of grants had left universities incapacitated to pay salaries which saw labour unions mulling taking the industrial action route.
Prof Moyo said, “The issue (grants) has been resolved and said lecturers will start receiving their salaries in due course. It’s significant to the universities and in this case (MSU) that this matter has been resolved. I’m aware that treasury has released that 50 percent but there will be a delay (because) the government system had been geared up for the reduction but now they are reprogramming and that’s taking some time.”
“We’re working very hard to ensure that the issue is resolved once and for all in terms of the certainty that the university staff have said they need. This issue shouldn’t come back again because State universities are statutory creatures and the State has an obligation to meet the basic cost.”
He said the basic cost was the employment cost and that was how Cde Mugabe had directed them to proceed. “So we will proceed like that,” Prof Moyo said.
The minister said the current economic environment does not allow universities to be weaned from State financial assistance and during his engagements with private universities, they also pleaded with him for salary support for their staff members.
Prof Moyo urged universities in the country to craft curriculum that meets international standards adding that the country’s universities must not struggle to be ranked in the top 10 African Universities.