Editor's Comment

Varsities should stick to rulebook

PART of the African Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063 benchmarks reads, “Africa is called upon to build and expand an African knowledge society through transformation and investments in universities’ science, technology, research, and innovation; and through the harmonisation of education standards and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications, establish an African accreditation agency to develop and monitor educational quality standards across the continent.”
The AU’s call to action as expressed in “The Africa We Want” is a recognition of higher education as a major driver of economic development on the continent.
With advances in technology, globalisation and demographics impact on Zambia, the role of higher education will increase.
For tertiary education to play its role in the socio-economic development of the country, there is need for holistic management of higher education sector.
Therefore, we expect institutions such as the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Zambia Qualifications Authority (ZAQA) to be hands-on deck to ensure that there is sanity in the tertiary education sector.
We also expect institutions that represent public universities as well as the Private Universities Association (PUAZ) to play an oversight role in ensuring that its members meet the set standards.
Government acknowledges the role that PUAZ plays as a stakeholder in the provision of tertiary education in the country.
Government has underlined its desire for quality education by working with PUAZ, HEA and ZAQA.
Currently, private universities account for over 70 percent of university students around the country, making them major contributors of higher education.
They provide a very important service in the higher education sector.
In view of this, private universities and colleges should at all times uphold the highest standards of learning.
There should be a deliberate policy to promote quality assurance by maintaining quality standards in institutions of higher learning.
Compliance with standards of relevant education which are accepted and recognised by employers and other educational institutions nationally and internationally should be a priority.
In this regard, watchdog institutions such as the HEA, ZAQA and other professional bodies should work closely with all training institutions to avoid shutdown.
Besides, industry is wary of half-baked students, especially in the medical field.
The consequences of churning half-baked students are ghastly because they will end up offering shoddy services.
For medics, their misdiagnosis or indeed administering of wrong medication may end up in fatalities.
Therefore, all training institutions in the country are obliged to meet the basic requirements to avoid situations that may lead to shutdowns.
Impromptu shutdowns such as the revocation of some medical programmes at Apex Medical University and Cavendish inconvenience students, lecturers and parents/guardians of the students as they tend to panic.
Training institutions such as Apex and Cavendish should also stop ignoring directives by regulators and professional bodies because they are meant for the good of all stakeholders.
This country is not short of qualified and experienced manpower to handle the competencies at local or international universities.
After all, Zambians are known for competence in the region, having supplied manpower in almost all disciplines to neighbouring countries and beyond.

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