The Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) this week (4th August to Friday, 7th August, 2020) held a series of consultative Technical Meetings with key stakeholders in the higher education sector on the proposed Draft Higher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The meetings were held following a directive from the Internal Legislative Committee of Cabinet Meeting in June, 2020, to ensure consensus was built in the process of amending the Higher Education Act No. 4 of 2013 to deal with conflicting and overlapping functions of various statutory bodies regarding the registration of institutions and accreditation of Learning Programmes (LPs) in higher education.
The Technical Meetings were held at Radisson Blu Hotel from Tuesday to Friday and were segmented into four Clusters to ensure adherence to the public health and safety guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on occupancy and gatherings during the COCID-19 pandemic. This Clustering approach ensured that all key players and stakeholders were involved while the meetings maintained adequate social distancing and observed all sanitization protocols.
Speaking during the Meeting, MoHE Director – Planning and Information, Mr. Succeed Mubanga, stated that the conflicts and overlaps in the sector had led to a fragmented sector, with multiple institutions involved in quality assurance, leading to varied standards of qualifications, and uncompetitive and low mobility of graduates.
“The review of the Higher Education Act is supported by the 2019 Higher Education Policy which calls for legislative and institutional reforms that will ensure an efficient and cost-effective higher education system that addressed the challenges in the sector,” he added.
Mr. Mubanga further stated that from the review of current legislation in the sector, a total of 18 pieces of legislation were identified that had provisions for both training and regulation. The Director also pointed out that the review unearthed a number of statutory bodies which had provisions in their legal frameworks for accreditation of LPs, which was a mandate of the Higher Education Authority, as these were in most instances, created before the establishment of the HEA.
During the legislative review, additional conflicts were identified which included statutory bodies being involved in the approval of training institutions and the self-regulation of some statutory bodies, that is, the statutory bodies develop LPs and offer the same LPs without subjecting them to a quality assurance bodies such as HEA or TEVETA.
Mr. Mubanga giving a presentation on the Higher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Therefore, the objectives of the Higher Education Bill, 2020, are to amend the Higher Education Act No. 4 of 2013 so as to redefine the functions of the Authority, reconstitute the Board of the Authority, revise the categories of HEIs, provide for accreditation of LPs, and, provide for matters connected with, or incidental to, the foregoing.
“The desired way forward is to build consensus that will aid the implementation of the objectives of the Amendment Bill and streamline quality assurance systems in higher education,” Mr. Mubanga said.
The Director further added that the accreditation of LPs and the registration of HEIs would be reposed at HEA, whilst the development of LP content and the regulation of professional conduct and practice would remain with the respective statutory and professional bodies.
Mr. Mulenga, giving concluding remarks.
In giving concluding remarks, MoHE Director – University Education, Mr. Charles Mulenga, thanked the participants on behalf of the Ministry and HEA, stating that the meetings were of grave importance to the sector and for posterity.
“As has been thoroughly explained during the presentations, what is evidently clear is the need to address the lacunas in the legislations in the higher education sector in order to upscale the sector through its restructuring,” Mr. Mulenga said.
The Director – University Education, emphatically noted that this restructuring was not intended to sideline any institution but to bring sanity to the sector. Mr. Mulenga further invited the participants to submit detailed written comments through the MoHE website, www.mohe.gov.zm, before the Friday, 7th August, 2020, deadline.
The list of stakeholders consulted included Agriculture Institute of Zambia, Copperbelt University (CBU), DMI St. Eugene University, Engineering Institute of Zambia (EIZ), Evelyn Hone College of Applied Science, General Nursing Council of Zambia (GNCZ), Health Profession Council of Zambia (HPCZ), Kwame Nkrumah University, Local Government Training Institute, Lusaka Apex Medical University, Mulungushi University, National Council for Construction (NCC), National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA), Natural Resource Development College (NRDC), Teaching Council of Zambia (TCZ), Technical Education, Vocation and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA), Texila American University, UNICAF University, University of Lusaka (UNILUS), University of Zambia (UNZA), Zambia Institute for Tourism and Hospitality Studies, Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE), Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services, Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants, Zambia Institute of Human Resource Management, Zambia Institute of Management, Zambia Institute of Marketing, and, Zambia Institute of Purchasing and Supply (ZIPS).
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