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The Draft Higher Education Policy

In our last newsletter, we had began looking at the Draft Higher Education Policy, which had validation meetings in the Southern and Northern regions of the country on 21st and 23rd August, 2018, respectively.

In this newsletter, we shall delve deeper into the Draft Policy, highlighting all of the Policy’s key aspects.

The Higher Education Policy review process started in 2017 when the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) held three (3) Stakeholder Consultative Meetings in Lusaka, for Lusaka, Eastern, Southern and Western Provinces; in Ndola, for Copperbelt, Central and North Western Provinces; and, in Kasama, for Northern, Luapula and Muchinga Provinces.

This led to the drafting of the Draft Policy in April, 2018, followed by Validation Workshops with Stakeholders that were intended to review the Draft Policy in terms of content, phrases and gaps, and adopt the Draft Policy subject to any amendments from the Workshops.

It is hoped that before the end of the year, the Draft Policy will be submitted to Cabinet for approval, with the subsequent Approved Policy and Comments submitted to the Ministry of Justice for Drafting of the new Higher Education Act.

Therefore, the rationale for formulating the Higher Education Policy is to establish a coordinated framework for quality higher education and skills training in the country. Currently, Zambia does not have a dedicated policy on higher education and skills development and largely depends on the Educating Our Future Policy of 1996 whose emphasis was on promoting basic education through primary and secondary education

The Draft Policy identified the following as key intervention areas:

  1. Quality and Relevance

The quality of education and its relevance to industry remains elusive and a number of objectives relating to quality in both the Educating Our Future and TEVET policies in their totality remained unachieved in certain instances, going by the performance reports of 2013-2014.

  1. Access and Participation

Despite efforts by Government to provide learning places at tertiary level, access has remained a big challenge over the years. In 2016, only about 12% of grade 12 that had full certificates were absorbed into Universities.

Moreover, despite enrolments in universities increasing significantly from 5,985 in 1996 to 91,969 in 2017, this increase remains insufficient to meet the demand for University Education. In TEVET, enrolments have also increased and reached 40,108 learners in 2017. 

  1. Equity and Inclusiveness

In order to improve equity in education and training, interventions were developed to counter inequalities in gender, disability, HIV/AIDS, financial and geographical locations. Interventions through the Student Loans and Scholarship Fund and the TEVET Bursary to counter bother gender and financial vulnerabilities were developed.

In addition, the construction of Universities and TEVET colleges in ‘far to reach’ places was scaled up. This notwithstanding, equity still remained a challenge as gender gaps existed especially in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Poverty, especially between the rural and urban areas also remained a big challenge.

  1. Efficiency and Effectiveness

Operational efficiency and effectiveness both at institutional, as well as, at sectoral levels also proved challenging. At institutional level, institutional frameworks to guide performance management and accountability were weak. At sectoral level, deficiencies in the institutional arrangements, policy and legal framework presented challenges in enforcement of regulations and execution of mandates.

Objectives

Consequently, the overall objectives of this Draft Policy are to coordinate, regulate and improve higher education and skills training in Zambia.

Furthermore, the specific policy objectives are

  1. To enhance quality and relevance in the provision of higher education;
  2. To increase equitable access and participation to quality higher education;
  3. To enhance equity and inclusion in higher education;
  4. To enhance efficiency and effectiveness of higher education;
  5. To promote alternative sources for financing Higher Education
  6. To enhance career development support to students

Implementation Framework

Effective delivery of the aspirations of the Higher Education Policy will depend heavily on the implementation framework.

  1. Institutional Arrangements

The policy will be coordinated and implemented through the existing institutional, organisational and management structures. The Ministry of Higher Education will be responsible for policy and legal framework formulation, strategic decision making, standard setting and enforcement, and overall coordination of the implementation.

Statutory bodies will ensure that the relevant laws and regulations are developed and enforced to ensure increased equitable access, enhanced quality and relevance, and effectiveness. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will serve as major implementing agencies.

  1. Legal Framework

There will be need to review the Higher Education Act No 4 of 2013 to support the implementation of this Policy. Further, government will need to repeal / replace and review other related pieces of legislation to effectively implement this policy.

  1. Resource Mobilisation and Financing

The Higher Education Policy requires sustainable financing to successfully achieve its desired objectives. Government shall mobilise financial and technical resources through the annual budget, CPs, multilateral and bilateral agencies to support the institutionalisation of the policy. The private sector will also be encouraged to play a bigger role in the financing of higher education.         

  1. Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the policy will be conducted through appropriate existing and new systems, procedures and mechanisms. The monitoring and evaluation CAGs will be responsible for providing advice in all matters concerning monitoring and evaluation.

Join the conversation on our social media pages @HEAZambia on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube using the hashtag #HEAZambia #HigherEducationZambia

This article was written on 18th September, 2018, by Birbal Boniface Musoba, Corporate Communications Officer.

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