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Students decry deplorable conditions at state universities

Tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe need to upgrade infrastructure especially lecture rooms as they no longer cater to the ballooning number of students, student representative bodies have said.

Giving oral evidence to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Monday, representatives from the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (ZICOSU) said lecture rooms in most universities have become smaller as most institutions have increased their intake figures, resulting in some students learning from outside.

“The lecture rooms we have are not well equipped to be containing students. For example, at Midlands State University Zvishavane Campus, there are 250 students doing Development Studies but the classrooms they are using cannot contain such a number. We end up having students overflowing, learning from outside,” said Eliad Madida, ZINASU President. 

He highlighted the overflowing lecture rooms had no public address systems, which made it difficult for students to participate fully in lectures. 

Concurring, ZICOSU secretary for education, Dyson Nyatsanga said most lecture rooms were old and dilapidated. 

“We are still learning from lecture rooms which were used by our parents. Most of these universities are operating above their student holding capacity. For example, at Chinhoyi University, there are 3000 students doing business studies but lecture rooms can only accommodate 50 people,” said Nyatsanga.

Last year, the then UZ Vice-Chancellor Professor Levi Nyangura announced that student’s enrolment at the institution had grown by more than 700% from 2 280 in 1980 to 17 000 in 2017.

The student bodies were also concerned with shortages of student accommodation on campus, which they said exposed students to high security risks.

“Universities and polytechnics are enrolling students whom they cannot offer accommodation on campus,” said Nyatsanga.

“Most students end up getting accommodation in suburbs where there is high security risks and theft. For example, in Chinhoyi University and Kwekwe Polytechnic, students are exposed to a dangerous gang called Mashurugwi which is tormenting them, stealing their laptops and money.” 

He suggested tertiary institutions to partner with private players so they can build more hostels to accommodate all students within the campus.

On the same issue, Madida said universities should find a way to cater for the increasing student population. 

“Most students enrolled are not offered campus accommodation. There is an organization which did a research and found out that at UZ, there were almost 10 900 students but the institution could accommodate 20% of those students. NUST enrolment was at 8 300 but only 5% of the students stayed on campus, for MSU, out of 30 635 students, only 25% stayed on campus”.

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