ZIMTA Supports Quality Education Print
The recent move by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development to close 126 private   colleges   must be applauded by all as this seeks to place provision of quality education back into the public system. This is as it should be because good quality education should be accessed by all. It is a human and constitutional right of every Zimbabwean.
Created: 18 February 2014
 By Daisy Zambuko: ZIMTA Public Relations Officer
It has been noted that some of the   reasons for closing the private colleges were that the institutions were failing to comply with the Manpower and Planning Development Act. Failure to comply with the regulations in the education sector   by private individuals and institutions should not be tolerated at any point. Those who choose to trade in a public good such as education must also be able to meet the minimum standards expected from them. Learners have the right to access the correct curriculum, the right examinations and they have the right to be taught by well-trained quality teachers. Thus these crucial elements cannot be privatized.
What is being privatized in the colleges?
It appears that in most private colleges, privatization occurs in the form of private financing for the colleges to run or the provision of the education in the colleges is private. But it is also clear to all that examinations, curricula, pedagogy etc., cannot be privatized. These are the same as those found in the   public schools.
Call for Quality education
Education is a public good, but it appears some individuals and institutions are being motivated to earn profit by selling a public good. Their argument is that they are responding to a need and a shortage for schools as the government is not able meet the demand.  The deterioration of standards experienced in many public schools between 2001 and 2008 gave rise to most private colleges. As the government was failing to pay teachers a living wage, many left the country and the standards in public schools plummeted. Parents had no choice but to send their children to private colleges where teachers paid reasonably well compared to government schools, hence teaching and learning was taking place there.
Owners of private colleges also proffer that they are catering for the significant demand of  providing education for all those who fail to meet the grade that allows them to proceed further in education through the public system as these tend to become fewer, as one goes up the ladder.  They also note that they offer better education than that which is found in some public Institutions.
Education, a public good
Provision of education is a human right as well as it is a public good which should be accessed by all. When it starts to get privatized, then, the question of access comes in.   In Zimbabwe, accessing education in the private colleges in expensive, hence it discriminates against the poor who   cannot   afford it.  Quality learning and teaching must take place in public schools. Well trained teachers need to be paid salaries commensurate with their qualification(s) in order for them to stay in the public schools. Monitoring and regulation of learning environments must be done regularly in public schools in a manner that promotes quality teaching, learning and environments.
Unite for Quality Public Education
It pays in the long run, to have   the government, the community, parents, students and learners unite to achieve good quality public education. If good quality education is accessed by all through the public system, it enhances quality education for Zimbabweans. As Nelson Mandela, postulates, parents have the right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. When teachers in Zimbabwe start earning quality salaries in public institutions, then Zimbabwe should see quality learning taking place in public schools because, teachers will be motivated to do what they know and do best.
Quality Salaries = Quality Teachers = Quality learners = Quality Results and Quality Citizens.
In summary, we advocate for all to unite for one goal, which is achieving good quality public education for all. The closure of the non-complaint private colleges is the first step.