An interpretive study of quality assurance in Zambian higher education: Implications for teaching and learning

Simukungwe, Mudenda (2018-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : There is emerging consensus internationally on the value of quality assurance in higher education, because of concerns on the global transformation of the higher education system from an elite higher education system to a mass higher education system. The higher education system transformed from being an elite system to a mass higher education system because of the increasing social demand for higher education worldwide. The higher education system is central because of its ability to advance socio-economic development initiatives, which could possibly be constrained without assurance of the quality of higher education. Being part of the global system, the Zambian higher education system was affected by massification and was liberalised to accommodate the effects of mass higher education. Liberalisation allowed participation of private providers in offering higher education. However, the National Policy on Education in Zambia does not explicitly state how quality for the university system is to be assured. The vagueness is problematic, firstly because of the liberalisation. Without adequate quality assurance, there is a danger that private providers might offer inferior qualifications to unsuspecting cohorts of students. Secondly, there is no evidence that specific quality assurance studies in Zambian universities have been undertaken, or that policy has had any influence on practice. In this undermining context, it became necessary to undertake a study on quality assurance for Zambian universities. The question addressed through this study was: How do the clarification and implementation of quality assurance strategies enable the Zambian Higher Education Authority to ensure quality educational offerings in both public and private universities? The interpretive methodology was used with attendant methods of conceptual analysis and deconstruction analysis to answer the research question posed. The interpretive methodology was useful because it argues on the meaningfulness of human action and seeks to understand the intentions underlying the actor’s reasoning in a particular context. Understanding of the meaningfulness of human actions and intentions was crucial in establishing the intent of policy in assuring quality. The use of attendant methods supported the clarification of concepts and detailed analysis of policy text, to enable me to reach a conclusion on how quality was being ensured for the Zambian university system. This study found that quality was defined in terms of inputs, process and outputs. This understanding was demonstrated by the implemented strategies, which focus on the inputs and process to assure the outputs. The study also established that of the three strategies implemented by the Higher Education Authority, none is comprehensive in assuring the quality of the Zambian university system in its entirety but assures quality in private universities only. As the study established the extent to which the implemented strategies are assuring quality, it provides insights to policy makers to strengthen policy on quality assurance to enable the Higher Education Authority to reach what it claims to be, namely the National Quality Assurance System for Higher Education in Zambia.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Oor die wêreld heen is daar toenemend konsensus oor die waarde van gehalteversekering in hoër onderwys weens kommer oor die wêreldwye transformasie van die hoëronderwysstelsel van ʼn elitehoëronderwysstelsel tot ʼn massa- hoëronderwysstelsel. Die hoëronderwysstelsel het van ʼn elitestelsel na ʼn massa hoër onderwysstelsel getransformeer weens die toenemende maatskaplike vraag na hoër onderwys wêreldwyd. Die hoëronderwysstelsel staan sentraal weens die vermoë daarvan om sosioekonomiese ontwikkelingsinisiatiewe te bevorder, wat moontlik ingeperk kan wees sonder die gehalteversekering van hoër onderwys. As deel van die wêreldwye stelsel is die Zambiese hoëronderwysstelsel geraak deur massifikasie en geliberaliseer om plek te maak vir die gevolge van massa hoër onderwys. Liberalisering het deelname van privaat verskaffers by die aanbod van hoër onderwys moontlik gemaak. Die nasionale onderwysbeleid in Zambië stel dit egter nie pertinent hoe gehalte vir die universiteitstelsel verseker sal word nie. Die vaagheid is problematies, eerstens weens die liberalisering. Sonder voldoende gehalteversekering bestaan die gevaar dat privaat verskaffers moontlik minderwaardige kwalifikasies aan niksvermoedende studente kan bied. Tweedens is daar geen bewys dat spesifieke navorsing oor gehalteversekering in Zambiese universiteite onderneem is, of dat beleid enige invloed op praktyk gehad het nie. Teen hierdie ondermynende agtergrond het dit nodig geraak om navorsing oor gehalteversekering vir Zambiese universiteite te onderneem. Die vraag wat in hierdie navorsing aan bod gekom het, was: Hoe stel die opklaring en implementering van gehalteversekeringstrategieë die Zambiese hoëronderwysowerheid in staat om onderrigaanbiedinge van goeie gehalte in beide openbare en privaat universiteite beskikbaar te stel? Die interpretatiewe metodologie is gebruik met gepaardgaande metodes van konseptuele analise en dekonstruksie-analise om die navorsingsvraag te beantwoord. Die interpretatiewe metodologie was nuttig aangesien dit die betekenisvolheid van menslike optrede voorstaan en poog om die bedoelinge onderliggend aan die doener se beredenering in ʼn besondere verband te begryp. Begrip van die betekenisvolheid van menslike optrede en bedoelinge was deurslaggewend by die bepaling van die oogmerk van beleid by die versekering van gehalte. Die gebruik van gepaardgaande metodes het die uitklaring van begrippe en gedetailleerde analises van beleidsteks ondersteun om my in staat te stel om tot ʼn gevolgtrekking te kom oor hoe gehalte vir die Zambiese universiteitstelsel verseker is. Hierdie studie het bevind dat gehalte gedefinieer is wat betref insette, proses en uitsette. Hierdie insig is gedemonstreer deur die geïmplementeerde strategieë, wat fokus op die insette en proses om die uitsette te verseker. Die navorsing het ook vasgestel dat van die drie strategieë wat deur die hoëronderwysowerhede geïmplementeer is, geeneen allesomvattend is wat betref die versekering van die gehalte van die Zambiese universiteitstelsel in sy geheel nie maar slegs gehalte in privaat universiteite verseker. Aangesien die studie die mate waartoe die geïmplementeerde strategieë gehalte verseker vasgestel het, verskaf dit aan beleidmakers insig om beleid oor gehalteversekering te versterk ten einde die hoëronderwysowerheid in staat te stel om te bereik wat dit voorgee om te wees, naamlik die nasionale gehalteversekeringstelsel vir hoër onderwys in Zambië.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104949
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