Tertiary education marred by challenges
Governments funding declines, cripples institutions
'Quality qualification assurance should not be compromised'
A two- day international conference hosted by Gaborone University College of law (GUC) last week brought together scholars from across the Sub Saharan region to introspect on challenges surrounding tertiary education throughout the African continent.
The conference held under the theme “Internationalising University Culture in Developing Educational Environments’’ was meant to facilitate deliberations on the issues affecting tertiary education such as the much compromised quality and qualification frameworks which is the cornerstone of progressive and standardized tertiary education. The conference had attracted scholars and policy makers in areas of research, qualification experts and policy formulation.
Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Fidelis Molao said tertiary education has full potential to unlock innovation and knowledge for the development of the country hence the creation of ministry responsible for tertiary education. “The dialogue from the conference of this magnitude without contradiction, enrich us with the variety of ideas, practices, recommendations and experiences, which you will carry back home to further argument and qualitatively enrich current practices’’ observed Molao.
Molao commended GUC for showing a keen commitment for offering platform for discussing issues challenging tertiary education through scholars sharing knowledge and ideas on revitalization and taking tertiary education to the next level.
Meanwhile, for her part the Zimbabwean renowned scholar, Professor Efiritha Chauraya said quality qualification frameworks should not be compromised as it one of the contributing factors that affects the standard of tertiary education and its outcome across the region. She stated that National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) should clearly assess the programs before accreditation adding that knowledge is what the holder of the qualification acquired should know and be able to implement it for future survival.
It is with no doubt that tertiary education is marred by challenges which results into the low quality outputs of graduates. Scholars have observed that of recent the governments funding on education has been declining due to budget constraints and this led to decline in absorbing of students by institutions. The political influence has been cited as another challenge by discussants as those in power are the ones who determines which institutions are to be funded based on certain powerful elites’ s interests on the institution either as a shareholder or board member, something which cripples some which heavily rely on government funding.
Scholars and Policy makers on the area of accreditation pinpointed the importance of quality qualification and accreditation of courses without compromising the much vital process. Africa according to Professor, Chauraya Africa is cited from the International Labor Organization (ILO) 2017 report as most of its universities are taking half approach to qualification accreditation.
Dr Patrick Molotsi underscored that “The results of taking half way approach in relation to qualifying and accreditation of programs come back as monster that haunts on us, because when quality is compromised it will results on the mismatch between what the industry needs and what the university produces in terms of the graduates”. He therefore said it is very important for the universities to conduct market-industry research before enrolling students in particular courses, degrees as the demands of the industry keep on changing from time to time.
The recommendations as drawn from the discussions and studies presented are key in addressing the challenges that the tertiary education encounter. One of the paramount models that the tertiary education providers can take is to engage in is benchmarking as a cooperative approach towards quality education in universities. Moreover, there is a need for more outcome based research, as well as enhancing education training which comes with employment opportunities with employable graduates.