Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
TEACHERS’ colleges should make sure they meet the required standards and expectations before they consider offering degree programmes at their institutions, University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor Professor Levy Nyagura has said.
Last year, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development said teachers’ colleges would soon offer degree programmes under new reforms being considered by Government.
However, Professor Nyagura told principals of teachers’ colleges at the 58th Hillside Teachers’ College graduation, where 588 teachers graduated on Thursday that only deserving colleges should offer degree programmes.
“We now need to think in terms of both the vertical and horizontal articulation of the programmes that we’re offering. We’ll support 100 percent the ministry’s initiative to let colleges offer degrees provided the expected conditions are met. If they’re not being met we might work against the idea,” he said.
Prof Nyagura, who is also the chairperson of the task force that was set up to look into the transformation of higher and tertiary institutions in the country said they have come up with stringent measures to make sure standards are followed.
“Our current expectation, which we hope will begin to be implemented from January 2018 is that the diploma in education should now be restructured in such a manner that by the time students complete their period of study they have attained development in a discipline up to second year level of an Honours degree of the UZ. That will give us assurance that we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.
He said institutions must be anchored on research.
“If there’s no serious evidence of knowledge contribution to problem solving or any activities that embrace innovation then obviously such an institution is still wanting in terms of offering degree programmes.
“The kind of results we’re expecting are the ones that will make Zimbabwe more competitive or function better than other countries in various areas. We’re also looking at the calibre of the students that are being attracted to carry out the degree programmes,” said Prof Nyagura.
He said if teachers’ colleges aspire to offer degrees they must have the same aspirations in terms of developments in the different disciplines that they are running.
“The same expectation goes to Physics, Chemistry, French, Portuguese, Tonga, Ndebele, Shona. There are various other factors that we have to look at such as the percentage of people with relevant qualifications.
“The challenge that we have is that we need to make Zimbabwe competitive regionally, continentally and internationally and that can only be achieved when we set high standards in higher education in particular with regards to offering degree programmes,” he said.
Prof Nyagura said the UZ had restructured its curriculum and strengthened the quality of the products it produces and expected the same from affiliate institutions.
“I’m expecting people majoring in Mathematics to be able to be taken up to the level of second year honours degree in Mathematics because the UZ degree is four years so we expect teachers to do half the period of what we’re doing at UZ. That’s a fair expectation.
“It can’t be an acceptable situation for an individual with a first degree in Mathematics and then acquires a Masters degree in business administration.
Such an individual cannot function as a mathematics teacher at a university,” he said.
He expressed concern that there was lack of continuity in the development of the different disciplines offered by colleges.
“This is the major challenge that we find in teachers’ colleges and that might work against the desire of a teachers’ college to offer a degree programme,” said Prof Nyagura. — @pamelashumba1