Buildings and learning equipment at some of the tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe have become obsolete and now require urgent attention, a recent parliamentary report has shown.
The report of the portfolio committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development on quality assurance in the higher and tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe was tabled before the august House last week by Matabeleland South proportional representation legislator, Lindiwe Maphosa.
“In the majority of the institutions visited, the authorities informed the committee that the physical structure that existed was constructed a number of decades ago and was constructed to suit enrolment during that time,” says the report.
“The institutions faced financial constraints to refurbish their infrastructure. Some of the buildings were old and obsolete and hence in need of sprucing up. HIT had requested ZWL$1, 5 million in May 2019 for maintenance but had not received the funds at the time of visit.”
The institutions visited include Gwanda State University, Lupane State University, Midlands State University, and Catholic University, Bulawayo Polytechnic, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic and others.
“Institutions continued to be constrained in achieving its mandate of incubating and commercialising technology due to archaic equipment in some of their workshops and laboratories,” says the report.
“More importantly, some of the equipment needed to be sourced from outside the country using foreign currency. Severely hit by this problem were polytechnics. At Bulawayo Polytechnic, the lecturers bemoaned the lack of modern equipment in this era of automation. The workshops continued to operate with manual machinery. The problem was further exacerbated and compounded by the failure to recruit workshop technicians to service the old equipment.”
The report says laboratories, libraries and recreational facilities at teacher-training colleges and polytechnics are now old.
“Most polytechnics, teacher-training colleges, and Gwanda State University’s libraries were ill-equipped to cater for current student needs,” says the report.
In most institutions, the report says there is an acute shortage of student and staff accommodation facilities.
“This was most notable at JM Nkomo Polytechnic. The Committee also learned that since its establishment, NUST has limited accommodation and at the time of visit it catered for only 156 students which is less than 1% of the total student enrolment.”