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The Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) Acting Director General, Dr. Vitalicy Chifwepa, has challenged the Programme Accreditation Evaluators the Authority uses to accredit Learning Programmes (LPs) from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to champion quality assurance in Zambia.

Speaking during the opening of the Orientation Workshop for Programme Accreditation Evaluators which was held last Friday at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Dr. Chifwepa stated that the Programme Accreditation Evaluators should champion quality assurance through their expertise and experience rather than the institutions or HEIs at which they work.

“We expect you to be champions of quality assurance with respect to LPs that is why we are a bit ‘shy’ to talk about you as members of your respective institutions because we consider you as having expertise and experience in your various areas of study and, as such, you are expected to go to institutions other than where you work and help us look at the LPs on behalf of the Zambian Government,” he said.

The Acting Director General further stated that by looking at the LPs, the Programme Accreditation Evaluators will be able to certify that the LPs qualify for accreditation in that these LPs lead to national qualifications in their particular area of study.

“We will call upon you to help us assess the standards of accreditation as well, for example, if we look at an LP like Geology, you should be able to ascertain if it should be taught the way it was taught in 1975 or if there are new areas that need to be incorporated today that are relevant to the LP,” Dr. Chifwepa stated, adding that the nature of accreditation standards is that they are dynamic.

With 1,256 LPs already submitted for accreditation to the Authority, and many more estimated still to be submitted, Dr. Chifwepa noted that HEA cannot have all the expertise inhouse to evaluate these LPs, thus, the Authority works with a committee of experts drawn from academic institutions and industry who are selected solely on the basis of their expertise and experience.

For the last week’s workshop, experts in the following fields, amongst others, were oriented: Psychology, Medical Diagnostic Radiography, Insurance and Pension Management, Applied Linguistics, Physiotherapy, Geology, Metallurgy, Pathology, Medicine and Surgery, and, Civil and Mechanical Engineering.

The Acting Director General emphasised that the Programme Accreditation Evaluators needed to embody one of HEA’s core values of integrity in order for them to effectively execute their duties as they visit HEIs that they might have come across in their respective professional careers.

Participants of the workshop practicing social distancing in accordance with the laid down health guidelines in view of COVID-19.

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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The Ministry of Justice hosted the Ministry of Higher Education and its stakeholders as part of internal consultations on the Higher Education Amendment Bill of 2020 on Thursday, 18th June, 2020, at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.

The internal consultation meeting of the Bill was the prologue to the Bill being submitted to the Legislative Committee of Cabinet.

The Amendment Bill, which has already passed through three (3) comprehensive consultative meetings with all stakeholders around the country, is intended to address the shortcomings in the current Higher Education Act No. 4 of 2013.

Represented at the meeting were the Higher Education Authority’s (HEA), the Zambia Qualifications Authority (ZAQA), University of Zambia (UNZA), University of Lusaka (UNILUS), Zambian Open University, and Evelyn Hone College of applied Arts and Commerce, amongst those that were invited.

 

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Higher Education Minister, Honourable Dr. Brian Mushimba, MP., has announced a cautious approach to the reopening of all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), both private and public, from 8th June, 2020.

The Honourable Minister was speaking today when he hosted a multisectoral press briefing at the Ministry of Higher Education in Lusaka with the Ministry of Health, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), the Ministry of General Education, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services.

In his remarks, Dr. Mushimba stressed that the reopening was applicable to all Public and Private Universities and Colleges, and that it will be implemented with strict adherence to COVID-19 regulations on social distancing, washing of hands, masking and avoidance of unnecessary gatherings.

“Opening of Universities and Colleges will be implemented in a phased approach subject to readiness (of the HEI) to resume classes,” he said. “In the first phase, final year graduating students and those in final exam classes will resume classes.”

Dr. Mushimba stated that the phased manner that will be used will take into consideration the different circumstances and levels of preparedness of each HEI. This will allow graduating students to be the first to commence lessons and subsequently write their examinations based on calendars approved by their respective Senates.

However, the Minister of Higher Education stated that foreign graduating students will continue with e-learning and their exams will be conducted online.

Figure 2 Mrs. Siame invites Dr. Mushimba to address the media as Mr. Malupenga looks on.

The Minister of Higher Education further stated that before any HEI could be allowed to be reopened, it would need to be inspected and certified ready by the appropriate authorities. Further, HEIs that were used as Quarantine Centres for COVID-19 would require to be adequately disinfected before they were certified ready to receive students back on their campuses.

The Minister further outlined the following key guidelines that will be required for any HEI to be certified to reopen, amongst other measures by appropriate authorities:

  1. Temperature checks at entry gates;
  2. Provision of hand washing facilities at all entrances of hostels, lecture rooms, labs, administration buildings, etc;
  3. Restriction of students two (2) students per room in Hostels and no squatting will be permitted;
  4. Restriction of visitors on campus;
  5. Social clubs and amenities will be closed;
  6. Very strong peer-to-peer monitoring;
  7. Provision of a check-in and check-out register in all Hostels;
  8. Regular inspections of hostels to ensure compliance; and,
  9. Regular cleaning, disinfection of buildings and surrounding areas.