PANIC has gripped students at private colleges in Bulawayo after the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education deregistered more than 100 institutions countrywide at a time when most students are writing their final examinations.
REPORT BY NQOBILE BHEBHE SENIOR REPORTER
A total of 111 institutions were found to be operating illegally and 42 were deregistered during a routine inspection exercise for private and independent training centres by the ministry.
Some of the affected centres are run by religious organisations.
According to a public notice from the ministry, Harare and Chitungwiza top the list of unregistered colleges with 36, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South have a combined 17, Midlands (16), Manicaland (25) and Masvingo (9). The bulk of deregistered colleges are also in Harare and Chitungwiza with 42, followed by Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South with 10, Midlands (seven), Masvingo (two) and Manicaland (three).
The government said the action was taken after thorough investigations.
“The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education is carrying out its mandate of inspecting private and independent training institutions to ensure that they are compliant with the Manpower Planning and Development Act 28:02 subsection 1 and statutory instruments 333 of 1996 and 26 of 2001 on critical issues of registration to guarantee that they are offering quality education and training.
“In this ongoing exercise, institutions in Harare, Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces have been inspected,” read part of the ministry’s notice issued yesterday.
“During this inspection exercise the institutions . . . have been found not compliant for the reasons stated and have therefore been closed.”
In Bulawayo, some of the notable institutions found to be operating illegally include Business Environment Services (BES), Foundation College, City Training College, New Vision College and ORAP.
Orion College and Sizinda Vocational Technical Centre have also been deregistered.
The recent clampdown follows the 2010 phase, which coincided with mid-term examinations and saw 106 colleges being closed for operating illegally.
Private colleges have mushroomed in cities and towns with some operating from residential areas and shopping centres.
Some are housed in dilapidated buildings commonly used by small to medium-scale enterprises, with no proper ablution facilities.
They mostly offer commercial and academic studies.
The majority of the staffers at these colleges are Ordinary Level and Advanced Level graduates. Students who spoke to NewsDay said they were surprised to learn that their colleges were operating illegally.
“It’s amazing that the college is also among the list of those said to be operating illegally. It has been in existence for several years now,” said a Form IV student at Orion College.
Acting Higher and Tertiary Education minister Ignatius Chombo was not responding to calls made to his mobile phone yesterday.