Government has called for urgent renewal, revitalization and modernization of high education in the country.
Education Deputy Minister Clement Sinyinda says the failure to address the three issues would make it difficult for higher education and graduates to synchronize with the current national expectations and needs in the country’s economy.
Mr. Sinyinda says the country needs a higher education that will stand up to acceptable international benchmarks in scope and quality.
He was speaking at the launch of the Private Universities Association of Zambia in Chisamba today.
Mr. Sinyinda said there was need for both private and public universities to strive to offer higher education that fits the needs and aspirations of the country.
“Universities must therefore examine carefully the status of programmes they are offering and how or what they hope to contribute in our current social and economic context,” said Mr. Sinyinda.
He appealed to both public and private universities to set clear standards and benchmarks in the degree programmes they offer.
The Deputy Minister emphasised the need for universities to also set standards in course content, performance and examinations against which external reviews would be conducted.
Mr. Sinyinda added: “Today university students need strong academic support to access knowledge, to enable them perform better and achieve higher. Modernized libraries with internet, Wifi; and online access to journals, books, and specialized publications are very essential in today’s academic and student life.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Sinyinda has expressed concern at the quality of hired lecturers and the conditions of employment in some of the private universities.
He said there was need for the Private Universities Association of Zambia to seriously address the qualitative issues inorder to enhance the image of the member universities.
Mr. Sinyinda noted that some individuals and organisations have ignored government regulations on establishing Private Schools and have gone ahead to set up schools illegally.
He said Zambia’s legal provisions on private participation in the provision of education are clear and must be followed by all private players in the education sector.
Speaking earlier, interim president of the Private Universities Association of Zambia, Professor Dickson Mwansa said the launch of the association is of great significance in the country’s higher education and government’s efforts to increase access and inclusion in higher education.
Prof. Mwansa said the nation’s demand for higher education is justified by the urgent need to revitalize the economy for growth and sustainable development.
He said the diverse range of economic activities in the country, requires the development and provision of requisite high level skills and competences to drive the economy.
“As our country’s economy grows and gets more complex, there is need for high-level skills-skills in critical analysis, quality and effective leadership in all sectors, strategic planning and management, policy-making and problem-solving,” noted Prof. Mwansa.
Prof. Mwansa assured that private universities in the country will aim to provide higher education that will respond to the needs and challenges facing the country.
The association will among other things, ensure quality of education in all private universities in the country.