Editor's Comment

Zambia needs well trained staff

THE directive by Minister of Higher Education to all institutions under her ministry to employ qualified lecturers has come at the right time.The education sector has become liberalised, so to say.
We are seeing a number of universities and colleges mushrooming in our midst, some of them being set up in the backyards of some dwelling houses.
There is also a drive for individuals to upgrade their qualifications in line with the increasing demands for more qualified people to take up jobs in line with the global dynamics.
It is not a bad idea for one to upgrade their qualifications, but what is undesirable is that those intending to upgrade their qualifications are met with an education of a lower standard.
The standard of education can be lowered when lecturers are of a lower standard, in other words, they are not qualified to offer the courses they do.
And this is Professor Luo’s concern and thus the directive that these institutions of higher learning have among their ranks of lecturers, only those who meet the qualifications.
The minister also directed that at least 75 per cent of the lecturers be full-time at an institution.
The Health Professions Council of Zambia withdrew approval certificates for some courses at Apex Medical University and Cavendish on grounds that the lecturers did not meet the qualifications.
In the case of Apex University, the programmes withdrawn were Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Bachelor of Science In Radiography because the Dean has no post- graduate qualification.
Furthermore, it was found that the school, with 740 students only has 5 full-time lecturers, and four of them are unqualified to teach.
The council withdrew the certificates for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Sciences in Clinical Sciences at Cavendish University because some teaching staff do not have HPCZ practising certificates, while the university has no policy on Occupational Health and Safety and does not have laboratories at the campus among other reasons.
Now, these are eyebrow-raising situations, which leave one wondering what kind of graduates to expect with such kind of training.
It means the graduates will be as raw as their lecturers and thus fail to deliver in their practice and the minister is right in making the directive.
The nation is in need of properly qualified staff to move the development agenda and this should start with institutions of higher learning ensuring that they deliver well-trained graduates.
It is cardinal that universities and colleges employee a larger part of qualified staff because this is good for their own reputation, enhancement of the profession and upholding of ethics.
The use of part-time lecturers takes away from the reputation of the institution, however good the lecturers can be. Their attention is divided in view of other engagements they have.
It is, therefore, imperative that those setting up institutions of higher learning support Government’s quest to develop qualified human resource by adhering to its requirements.
Zambian professionals have been a shining example wherever they are posted, either on the continent or beyond. This is the reputation training institutions should endeavour to uphold by sticking to strict training requirements.

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