In a decision aimed at helping the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the government save millions in bursaries to foreign colleges, thousands of students were sent to local private institutions this year.
About 15, 000 students were to be sponsored in local institutions approved by the Tertiary Education Council (TEC). The announcement by MoE elicited excitement in the tertiary education system in the country. It was expected the development would boost the local economy and help the private tertiary education sector grow and create space for Form Five leavers.
Several international institutions surfaced while existing ones made themselves visible to and applied to TEC for accreditation. The media bought into the idea, especially as it was realised that government was wasting money on foundation courses in South Africa when students can be taught here.
However, a few months down the line, cracks are beginning to appear from the landmark decision as beneficiaries say they are not getting value for money. Elsewhere in this edition, students at one of these newly accredited institutions, Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies (GIPS) are up in arms over poor learning conditions.
Students at the said college allege that there is no reading area as the so-called library is only a big 'reading room' with two cupboards half filled with books. This raises questions as to whether the learning environment is conducive enough to the enable the students to study.
The concerns raised should not only be seen to be confined to GIPS. Other TEC accredited institutions should take note. When registering these private institutions, TEC must have realised the shortcomings such as lack of libraries. But the institutions were granted permits to operate on the understanding that the situation will be rectified. But now it appears the management of these institutions have violated this trust. When questioned about their non-compliance this week, one of these institutions threatened us with legal action should their story be published.
All we wanted to establish was their commitment to quality delivery of education to our children. We had also wanted to enquire about the criteria they used in hiring their lecturers.
There are bound to be teething problems for the new dispensation and it is hoped that the students who complained at GIPS should be listened to instead of being victimised. We hope that relevant authorities will attend to the issues raised by the students for this new initiative to be a success.
Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.
- Peter F. Drucker