Walter Mswazie, Masvingo Correspondent
THE MINISTRY of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has set up an advisory committee whose mandate is to provide consultancy on quality assurance to polytechnics.
The ministry is also calling for a single quality assurance body in the country as it sets the ground for polytechnics to award degrees.
Among others the steering committee comprises chairman Chinhoyi University of Technology Vice Chancellor Professor Davison Simbi, National University Science and Technology (Nust) Dean of Faculty of Industry Technology Dr Zwelibanzi Dlodlo, Mutare Polytechnic principal Ms Poniso Watema, Nust chairperson of Department of Electronics Engineering Mrs Magripa Nleya, Engineering Council of Zimbabwe (ECZ) chairperson Engineer Martin Manuwa and Harare Polytechnic principal Eng Tafadzwa Mudondo.
Addressing students who graduated with diplomas and certificates during the 24th graduation ceremony at Masvingo Polytechnic yesterday, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Jonathan Moyo underscored the need for the ministry to have a single body that oversees issues of higher and tertiary education especially on quality assurance matters.
A total of 772 students, comprising 402 males and 370 females graduated in various courses.
Eight students graduated with B-Tech certificates and diplomas in Food Science and Technology.
Prof Moyo bemoaned the low uptake of engineering disciplines at the college noting engineering graduates produced at the institution since inception constitutes only four percent of the total number of artisans (418 out 9 745 students enrolled). He said the majority (40 percent) were in commerce. Arts disciplines have contributed 10 percent, applied sciences (12percent) and Information Technology (six percent). He said the present arrangement has the Zimbabwe Council of higher Education (ZIMCHE) which oversees quality assurance at universities and there is also a quality assurance department within the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development which carters for HEXCO programmes.
Prof Moyo said the HEXCO framework makes the transformation of polytechnics into degree awarding institutions not sustainable.
“Further there is an issue of quality assurance of the proposed B-Tech programmes. Presently there is ZIMCHE which has responsibility of overseeing quality assurance at universities. There is also a quality assurance department within the ministry and it is responsible for overseeing HEXCO programmes,” said Prof Moyo.
“For the transformation of polytechnics into degree awarding institutions the ministry views the HEXCO framework as untenable. The ministry will rather have an arrangement where all higher and tertiary issues to deal with quality assurance are overseen by a single body in the country.” “In order to deal with these and related issues the ministry has set up a steering committee to provide comprehensive policy advisory and consultancy service for desirability and feasibility of the transformation of polytechnics into degree awarding institutions.”
He said the terms of reference for the committee are to assess the state of polytechnic education in the country with reference to the development and training of artisans, technicians and technologists.
He said this is in light of the new long term policy of industrialisation and modernising Zimbabwe.