Higher Education Authority (HEA) Director General, Professor Stephen Simukanga, has stated that the Authority will continue conducting capacity building workshops in response to public concerns that lower public confidence in the Zambian education system and compromises the regional and global competitiveness of Zambian graduates.
Professor Simukanga said this when he gave the keynote address during the opening of the Workshop on Effective Teaching for Higher Education which was held from 3rd - 5th December, 2019 at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lusaka.
The Director General stated that these public concerns included a poor showing of Zambia Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in global ranking systems, the quality of the teaching staff at HEIs, low research outputs, and the unsatisfactory performance of our graduates in industry.
“We have 55 private HEIs complimenting seven (7) Public Universities in higher education provision,” Professor Simukanga stated. “We are aware and glad to note that some of the private HEIs have made huge investments in infrastructure developments and introduced new programmes that are responsive to our country’s development agenda as espoused in our 7th National Development Plan and other sector specific development frameworks.”
Figure 2 Professor Emmanuel Chanda led a discussion on Day 1 of the workshop on what wrong things lecturers do when conducting lectures
The Director General made mention that despite it being commendable that there has been growth in both public and private sector provision of higher education, there were growing public concerns about the quality of education offered in the higher education system, concerns that have been making media headlines for the wrong reasons.
“The issues I have pointed out here serve to lower public confidence in our education system and compromise the regional and global competitiveness of our graduates,” he said. “In my view, this is a situation that must come to a halt.”
The Director General stated that HEA’s response to the public concerns will be through continued capacity building workshops for the lecturers at all HEIs, including proposed HEIs. These workshops will be aimed at fostering quality in higher education delivery.
“HEA is keen on promoting a culture of quality in Zambia’s higher education sector and as such we see ourselves as players in the sector and not merely regulators,” Professor Simukanga said. “Therefore, embracing a culture of quality is not an option for our higher education sector.”
The Director General emphasised that several developments such as technological advancements, global university ranking systems and the emergence of regional and continental accreditation systems require that HEIs place a premium on quality assurance in the education systems.
“It is critical for us to develop skilled and competitive human resources for national development and to enhance the mobility of our graduates in a world where labour is increasingly being globalised,” he said. “Thus, at the core of all this is an effective teaching staff.”
Figure 3 Dr. Orleans Mfune, Manager – Standards, Research and Institutional Audits, led a discussion on Day 2 of the Workshop exploring whether higher education has failed.
The Effective Teaching for Higher Education workshop will cover how students learn, focusing on student centred learning and how to make a course plan that is effective. Thus, an important aspect to this is evaluating effective teaching as it is not simply a matter of delivering a lesson but ensuring that the lesson is consumed by the students. That is why the workshop further examined new developments in teaching, which include Learning Management Systems.
The Director General further emphasised that the workshop should not be an end in itself as HEA was keen to see the results of the workshop culminating into improvement in the way higher education was taught.
“It is our hope that you will share the results of this workshop with those that may not be here,” Professor Simukanga said, noting further that the facilitators were willing to conduct the same kind of workshop at their respective HEIs so that more people could participate.
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