Review staff qualifications, polytechnics told
POLYTECHNICS must review staff qualifications and competencies before they transform into degree awarding institutions for identified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) courses.
Speaking during a graduation ceremony at Kwekwe Polytechnic yesterday, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Jonathan Moyo said current staff and managers at the polytechnics in the country were unqualified to tutor degree programmes. As such, he said polytechnics needed to recruit lecturers and managers with the requisite skills.
The Minister said polytechnics’ curriculum should focus on Stem skills relevant to the new industrialisation and modernisation agenda.
“The biggest question polytechnics face as they prepare for transformation into degree awarding universities is do they have the qualified personnel? One common rule is that one with a higher qualification can teach one with a lower degree,” said Prof Moyo.
“Using this fundamental rule, we will strictly adhere to that as we transform the polytechnics into degree awarding institutions. Against this backdrop, the transformation into degree awarding institutions will require polytechnics to review staff qualifications and competencies and recruit lecturers and managers who are trained in higher degree such as M.Techs and D.Techs.”
He said the transformation into degree awarding institutions should not be done until four crucial challenges facing all polytechnics have been resolved.
“First polytechnics must return to their core mandates and become centres of excellence in those mandates.
“At the moment no polytechnic can be said to be cumulatively discharging its core mandate at the required minimum threshold of 70 percent. Kwekwe Polytechnic is at 48 percent, there’s a good 22 percent to cover,” he said.
The Minister said it was also important for polytechnics to ensure that their core mandates are distinct but complementary with mandates of industrial trade training and testing centres that certify artisans.
“We expect polytechnics to develop and train Stem technicians. The difference between Stem artisans and Stem technicians must be clarified from a qualification and skills point of view,” said Prof Moyo.
Thirdly, Prof Moyo said it was now important and necessary for polytechnics to unpack and forge new links with appropriate SMEs to drive new industries.
“Fourth, compared to teachers’ colleges, our polytechnics have rather weak management systems. One can easily tell this by comparing how polytechnics organise graduation ceremonies versus how teachers’ colleges do it. The gaps are glaring.
“To help polytechnics to deal with these four challenges, the Ministry is in the process of restructuring the National Manpower Advisory Council (NAMACO) to enable it play the role it should play in terms of the Manpower Development Act,” he said at an event where 1 108 students graduated.