Re­view staff qual­i­fi­ca­tions, poly­tech­nics told

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pa­trick Chi­tumba Mid­lands Bureau Chief

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.

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