BY MOSES MATENGA
MEDIA lecturers at the Midlands State University have threatened to resign en masse in protest over curriculum changes they say were unilateral and without their input.
NewsDay gathered that morale was low at the MSU’s Department of Media and Society Studies, with the lecturers arguing that their input was not sought over the Bachelor of Science (Honors) and Master of Science in Media and Society Studies degrees, which the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE) said should be dropped.
As a result, it emerged that the new programme had been heavily weakened and politicised as those that were consulted to give their input before it was introduced were neither experienced nor knowledgeable on media issues.
“The whole thing was done more as a command and many universities are not happy with this, particularly when they feel their input was not considered while that of people with no knowledge of the processes was included,” an insider said.
“We were doing our Master of Science in Media and Society Studies and ZIMCHE has communicated that the degree that we are doing has to be dropped,” another insider said.
“Our lecturers have been fighting to convince ZIMCHE that our degree programme is actually the best being offered. They have been trying frantically to make them understand why it is Master of Science and what makes it stand out as compared to other journalism degrees.”
MSU is credited for pioneering media studies degrees in the country and churning out hundreds of journalists over the past years.
But lecturers and students fear that the latest move would weaken the programme.
“Some of our courses, for example, which were unique to us have been scrapped and this whole process in our view is highly politicised,” a source said.
“There is need to put it clear to ZIMCHE and the administration at MSU that this will reduce our degree to a Mickey Mouse degree just like those offered by others, yet ours was standing out.”
The source added: “We may be forced to agree to something we didn’t contribute to, and which we strongly disagree to. Our contributions were either deliberately or maliciously left out or it was an oversight.”
MSU media department has eight PhD holders and one professor, but they were all not consulted in the process despite having arguably the best brains in the media training arena.
Insiders described those who “unanimously” came up with the curriculum changes as “egocentric” and pursuing a narrow agenda that will destroy the quality of media personnel the MSU has been known for churning out.
ZIMCHE chief executive officer Professor Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo was not reachable for comment yesterday.
Meanwhile, students studying towards the Masters in Media and Society Studies degree have petitioned department chairperson Professor Nhamo Mhiripiri and the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, Chipo Hungwe, and Dzvimbo expressing their dismay over dissolution of their programme.
They described ZIMCHE’s decision as “heartbreaking” and done in bad faith.