What you need to know:
- Speaking while closing a two-day consultative training workshop for university heads yesterday, minister for Education, Science and Technology Prof Adolf Mkenda singled out areas that needed to be worked upon to help improve the quality of education
Dar es Salaam. Members of university councils, Senates, and governing boards have been instructed to be aware of problems that compromise the quality of education in the nation and to take steps to improve internal quality assurance procedures to get education back on track.
Speaking while closing a two-day consultative training workshop for university heads yesterday, minister for Education, Science and Technology Prof Adolf Mkenda singled out areas that needed to be worked upon to help improve the quality of education.
Prof Mkenda noted the presence of a hot debate in Tanzania about the quality of education and that it intensified after Covid-19 pandemic.
“There are some challenges, including the low learning capacity of students admitted to universities, which can prompt lecturers to lower quality standards. Financial challenges are ours [government officials] to solve, and we really need to work on them,” Prof Mkenda told the more than 120 participants of the meeting in Dar es Salaam.
Citing examples, Prof Mkenda said that there were lecturers who supervised more than 15 students in research projects. “This is not required, even if we want to have as many graduates as possible. We cannot allow this at the expense of quality,” he noted.
Due to this situation, Prof Mkenda suggested a new procedure for the public defence of research at the Masters and PhD levels that will determine the ability of the candidates.
Another thing he emphasised was the need for proper systems to test for plagiarism among students/scholars.
“When we find out that someone has obtained a Masters or PhD by plagiarising, we will disqualify him and shame the university, so people should be careful with it.”
He said it was time to stop the habit of compromising quality in order to have quantity.
“The number of existing lecturers and the type of infrastructure are questionable, but we should not use such excuses to water down the quality of education,” he cautioned.
Speaking about research, Prof Mkenda asked the university leadership to ensure that research conducted by lecturers was published in international peer-reviewed journals.
“We must ensure that our researchers compete internationally by publishing in various international journals. Our people must compete in the international league so that we can develop our league,” he said.
The minister also urged local universities to collaborate in facing existing challenges, such as the shortage of lecturers, in order to maintain quality. He believed that a lecturer could teach at two institutions if there were good procedures.
According to Prof Mkenda, the ongoing reform of education will require specialized teachers and lecturers to help in the provision of education in technical and vocational institutions.
“We will need universities to help us find teachers. If it is agriculture, we will need a teacher who specialises in agriculture,” he said.
The Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) executive secretary, Prof Charles Kihampa, said various issues were deliberated on in the two-day meeting.
Among them were quality assurance at the institution oversight level, the regulatory framework for university education in Tanzania, and a three-tiered cluster of the university governance structure.