Editor's Comment

Colleges need acceptable levels of education

THE closure of 20 colleges by the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) is unfortunate and makes sad reading, especially to the students and parents who paid huge fees in this hard economic situation.
It is a pity that guidelines by TEVETA to people who intend to run colleges are disregarded. Faced with lack of compliance by TEVETA for colleges to meet minimum standards, the consequence is closure.
Government has no capacity to provide tertiary education to every school- leaver. This is where the private sector comes in to fill the gaps because of the so many young people leaving school every year.
Those who are not selected to public colleges end up in private colleges where they fulfil their dreams of attaining higher education.
However, higher education in Zambia has been taken for granted by people who want to make quick money at all costs.
They do not mind the premises where such colleges will be located – whether in a corridor, alley, makeshift stall, house or indeed any building they will call an institution of higher learning. This has led to the mushrooming of colleges.
Apart from compromising with premises to be called a college, they also hire unqualified lecturers.
They also compromise on entry requirements by admitting students who failed lamentably as long as they have capacity to pay.
Failure to meet minimum standards is the reason TEVETA is left with no choice but to close such institutions.
The closure of such colleges, however, has a huge impact on the students and their parents or guardians. But proprietors of some colleges will not care.
Yet, the impact of closures will be severe and will be felt throughout society and indeed the education sector.
There are hundreds of parents who have paid thousands of Kwacha for their children or dependants to access higher education.
As a lesson to such erring institutions, Government must compel them to refund the money paid by the students. To some extent, that is precisely why the country has remained underdeveloped because of sub-standard tertiary education.
There are a number of graduates in the country who are poorly trained. This is a result of bogus institutions interested in quantity instead of quality.
TEVETA is doing a commendable job of inspecting its institutions to ensure they conform to the set standards.
The regulatory institution should continue to impose strict measures before any university or college can open its door.
Colleges must not just meet minimum standards but also acceptable levels of education.
Some colleges put up standards they do not possess on registration. Such should not be spared once they are found out.
Illegal colleges drain the resources of poor parents and are a drawback to the development strides Zambia is making in the development of human capital .
TEVETA should continue working to bring sanity in the higher education sector in an effort to maintain integrity and give a sense of confidence to members of the public.
Zambia needs well trained graduates who are able to articulate issues and help solve the problems the nation is facing as a way towards development.

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