More college intakes compromise the quality of education

By Charmaine Makayi

HARARE – The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Professor Murwira announced a 10% increase enrolment at tertiary institutions after the government scrapped ordinary level mathematics as an entry requirement for 30 courses.

He said tertiary institutions were granted the authority to recruit students without demanding specific subjects such as Mathematics and English as long as the programs on offer do not require those subjects.

”What we have seen is an increase of enrolment in these areas (polytechnics) where enrolment was going down; In actual fact we have an average of 10% increase in enrolment” he said. The increase in enrolment of students at tertiary institutions has repercussions of compromising the quality of education in Zimbabwe.

The scrapping of English to those who study sciences and commercials is compromising the quality of education because English is an international language that each individual should know regardless of their profession.

In 2015 the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education adopted the National Action Plan (NAP) which aimed to increase enrolment and improve the quality of all levels of education but has neglected to improve the quality of education.

A good quality of education is one that provides all learners with capabilities that require becoming economically productive, develop sustainable livelihoods, contribute to a peaceful and democratic society and enhance individual well-being. With increasing enrolment at tertiary institutions, students are facing challenges that will decrease the quality of education in Zimbabwe.

Quality education puts the student at the centre and helps it to reach his/her full potential. Due to increased number of students, colleges are recruiting lecturers who are not qualified enough to teach. Some students are failing to excel in their studies says one student, ‘I know very well that my lecturer has not received much training to be a lecturer. The college took him because he has a master’s degree which he has acquired in less than 5 years. I just end up studying on my own because it’s my future.’

Quality education requires a student’s active participation in order to produce the best educated students. Lecturer to student ratio and level of attention is very low as one lecturer will be teaching more than 100 students in a course. That same lecturer is required to mark those papers and be able to assist those with their grades deteriorating. It will be difficult for that lecturer to identify those who have challenges which might be caused by psychological factors such as grief and abuse. ‘Marking papers of a larger group is quite exhausting compared to a smaller group as a result I will just be rushing to meet my target. It is difficult to motivate a larger group because I have so much work to do’ says a lecturer.

Most of the students do not have access to the facilities at the library such as textbooks because they are fewer to cater for everyone and also outdated.

Dr James Madzimure a lecture at Chinhoyi University published his thesis entitled: Zimbabwe University Education SystemA survival of the fittest emphasised that colleges have an ‘excess of 55 000 students a phenomenon commonly referred as massification which has compromised in the quality assurance system’’.

He also noted that colleges seem to be having a stiff competition for the clientele base where standards are compromised and students are now taken as a potential cash cow to fund university activities. February/March intakes, weekend and evening classes are increasing the enrolment of students.

Newsday published that more students are faces challenges such as accommodation nightmares, drainage problems and poor lecture methods where more students are attending in a small venue with poor communication facilities.

Zimbabwean universities struggle with ways of providing quality education and the increase in enrolment will lead the quality of education to be in the drain.

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