Proposed curriculum changes at the University of Zimbabwe have caused a furore as the institution looks set to make sweeping changes to its degree programmes under Government’s Education 5.0 programme. The 5.0 programme seeks to modernise university learning curricula and make degree programmes comparable across universities.
Some departments at UZ however have written to management in protest against the proposed new degree programmes. The Department of Sociology says that the institution did not include its input in making changes to the department even though they had been part of the consultative process.
In a petition seen by The Anchor the department said that its input into the new programmes had been ignored even though they had been part of the process.
“We are dismayed by the realisation that changes proposed by discipline experts in the Department of Sociology have been 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 petition reads.
“We were open to ideas, open change and open to constructive criticism. At the end we submitted our proposed degree programmes, together with the scientific justifications for the changes we did and the programmes we retained,” the petition adds.
The new structure which the university has come up with will do away with the Department of Sociology and put in place new programs.
“So now what has the curriculum review done? Disregarded inputs from a consultative process. We participated in good faith. Only to have programmes designed by non-experts in our disciplines imposed on us,” the petition adds.
“We do not discern our discipline in the following imposed undergraduate degrees mentioned in the circulated, purportedly approved new programmes; BSc Hons Smart Technology Applications and Community Development, BSc Hons Innovation and Community Development, BSc Urbanisation and Social Amenities Development, BSc Society and Heritage Studies, BSc Anthropology and Heritage Studies,” the petition says.
The changes will also affect post graduate studies.
“We had also proposed an MSc in Sociology and Anthropology of Health because we know, from AIDS, to Ebola, Cholera, Covid, social practices are at the core of how these spread but also how these can be contained.
“Whatever the reasoning, it is flawed, but the result is the establishment of a department of Community and social development. From what has been communicated, it seems this is the new department for Sociologists and Anthropologists. The naming of the Department erases our identity, and the name of the Department has been stolen from another department in the faculty,” the petition says.
Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development Minister, Amon Murwira, said the review process was not complete and added that any misgivings should be handled internally at the university and not through the press.
“There is no controversy at all. Nothing is finished yet because it first has to go to ZIMCHE (Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education). But this is something that must be discussed amongst themselves at the University of Zimbabwe and not in the press. We are transforming the education and we are not going back.
“No one will lose their jobs but we are not doing it for people to keep their jobs. It’s not about self-preservation. But in the end change is what it is. The University of Zimbabwe is the oldest institution in the country and some people have been there for a long time so there might be some conservatism,” Murwira said.
According to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development under Education 5.0 Zimbabwe’s state universities’ traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research and community service has been revised to align to the urgent national ambition to attain middle income status by year 2030.
“It is now demanded of the nation’s higher and tertiary education sector to not only: (1) teach, (2) research and (3) community serve but (4) innovate and (5) industrialise Zimbabwe. Under Education 5.0, Zimbabwe’s state universities must launch into outcomes-focussed national development activities towards a competitive, modern and industrialized Zimbabwe,” the Ministry said.