UZ lecturers, admin clash over programmes

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UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe(UZ) lecturers are up in arms with the institution’s administration for allegedly seeking to scrap several programmes and replacing them unilaterally without consulting the academics, the Daily News reports.

Following a recent curriculum review process, the UZ administration led by vice chancellor Paul Mapfumo resolved to scrap several programmes such as Sociology from the Faculty of Social Sciences as well as several others from the Faculty of Arts, including Economic History.

But in responses to the resolution dated March 27, 2020 seen by the Daily News, lecturers in the departments of Sociology and Economic History have threatened to take legal action, arguing they risk losing their jobs.

The lecturers argue that the University Act and Ordinance 25/ 43 sub-sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 44 spell out the roles of the faculty and departments in the development of new programmes, yet theirs “were largely ignored and in their place are impositions of new non-social science degrees from the executive who have no certified expertise in ‘our disciplines’”.

The lecturers described the executive’s proposal as an attempt to “decapitate, decimate, annihilate and unprofessionally reorganise” the Sociology department.

“We reject, in its entirety, the imposed package on the department as it is not only foreign but fails to meet the requirements of the discipline and minimum requirements of Education 5.0. Should the UZ executive insist on this despotic path, we will be left with no choice but to seek legal redress,” the lecturers said.

Mapfumo’s mobile phone continuously went unanswered when efforts to get his comment were made.
But the lecturers argued that their rejected expert proposals were in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vision 2030 as well as “rational trends within our disciplines and bench-marked with regional and international universities”.

The educators also claimed the supposedly imposed programmes lacked scientific justification and that they hardly meet the minimum requirements of Education 5.0.

“By this rejection and challenge we seek restoration of professionalism, identity of our discipline(s) as well as compliance with the governance system of the University that recognise the importance of discipline expertise, the role of departments and other organs of the university,” they said. In place of Sociology, the university seeks to have a Community and Development course which the lecturers argue is shallow.

On the other hand, Economic History departmental chairperson Ushehwedu Kufakurinani said the changes to his department would result in the University failing to get cooperation with other international institutions.

“While it has been the position of the University that we should be less concerned about bench-marking from elsewhere and create our own mark, the proposed departments — except for the one on Heritage and Knowledge Systems — can be identified in international academic spaces.

“It would be extremely difficult to find collaborations and similar communities when you come from an unknown department where no one in the world can identify with you,” Kufakurinani said.

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