MUTARE – Higher and Tertiary Education minister, Jonathan Moyo, has slammed the willy-nilly conferment of honorary degrees by philanthropic organisations, labelling them “dubious” and vowed to protect the country’s academic reputation.
Moyo also tore into beneficiaries of the degrees, saying some of them lacked “any academic or rational basis to deserve any degree”, but were being awarded because they were either corrupt or were wealthy enough to pay their way to getting one.
The former Information minister, who argued that “degrees must be earned by working hard” otherwise the country’s academic reputation would be corroded by the rampant practice, said government was already finalising legislation against it.
“The ministry has witnessed with utter dismay a growing trend of some philanthropic organisations awarding PhDs and the recipients of those dubious PhDs going around calling themselves Dr so and so,” Moyo said, while addressing graduands at Mutare Polytechnic College on Friday.
“Anyone involved in this dreadful practice will soon face criminal prosecution. So the only alternative is to stop it now otherwise the impending consequences will be too ghastly to deal with,” he warned.
He added: “As the country’s tertiary education institutions prepare to transform themselves into degree awarding institutions, the ministry wishes to warn unscrupulous entities that have been offering dubious degrees and corrupt individuals who have been buying or receiving these degrees to stop it. Just stop it!”
“… the ministry is finalising draft legislation to make it a criminal offence for anyone or any organisation not registered or accredited as a tertiary or higher education institution to offer any degree whatsoever,” he said.
The law, Moyo said, will enable prosecution of both the institution and beneficiaries.
“Degrees are something you earn by working hard…they are not a philanthropic service. We are responsible for higher and tertiary education and a degree is a very important academic qualification,” he said, adding that “Zimbabwe is well known for its high standards of education and the ministry will do everything possible in terms of the law to protect these standards as a matter of national interest”.
“The entities in question are neither registered nor accredited to award any degrees or to offer any academic programmes.
“The individuals who have been getting these dubious degrees from dubious organisations have had no academic or any other rational basis to get the degrees besides that they have been able to buy them.”
Meanwhile, government is preparing to conduct a comprehensive 10-year national skills audit to align tertiary institutions to what the country and industry require for optimum performance and growth.
“In order to facilitate empirically grounded core-mandate realignment and refocus for tertiary and higher education institutions in the country, the ministry is proposing to undertake a comprehensive National Manpower Survey or a National Skills Audit that will provide a true national outlook in terms of availability or shortage of skills for the period 2016 to 2026,” Moyo said.
The country last had such an audit back in 1981 and 1982, Moyo said.
He said the skills survey would provide government, employers, investors, individuals as well as educators and trainers with the current state of Zimbabwe’s strategic skills and what is required in the country’s quest for industrialisation and modernisation.
“The survey will provide these stakeholders with information on areas of potential skills shortage now and in the future,” Moyo said.-Dailynews