TCU’s revision of admission merits commendable

18Sep 2016
Guardian On Sunday
TCU’s revision of admission merits commendable

NEW entrance levels to higher learning institutions have been set out by the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) following public outcry and strong lobby by the institutions over inability to enroll sufficient number of-

students on the basis of admission criteria set out by the commission about two months ago.

Thousands of eligible youngsters lost hope of joining universities as the commission set unrealistic high levels as if seeking to prohibit failures at university or other college levels. Certainly, failure to meet the earlier admission criteria would not deter the given student’s ability to learn.

There were experiences in the past where decidedly favorable admission criteria, actually taken as a special program to enable greater recruitment of students for science teaching in secondary schools, met with hurdles.

In the March 1980 examinations at the University of Dar es Salaam, about 37 female students enrolled under a special programme, majoring in chemistry, had to be discontinued on account of scoring well below the relevant levels. They did not even qualify for a supplementary exam sitting which is limited to only two below-pass scores.

Since then special programmes have had varying experiences, the most tantalizing of which has been registered this year, with officials at the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training doing some queer somersaults since taking office earlier in the year.

Everything was being put to question and was even up for grabs, and no one knew what sort of policies ought to be followed at TCU in relation to integrity of higher learning institutions, and indeed for the commercial viability of private institutions. Even government institutions need a measure of sustainability, not impeccable standards.

The latest decision improves earlier admission scores by a significant percentage, when it shifts from 2.7 Graded Performance Average to 3.0 points, compared to the previous notice when the bar was set at 3.5 GPA average, cutting off a swathe of 0.8 points of GPA to push upwards eligibility for admission. Now it is evident that students with below 3.5 points average can learn in university and ought to be admitted, even if this isn’t ideal from the viewpoint of rigorous criteria.

Similarly, the minimum score for admission for those being graded with letters A to E is now set at D, as opposed to earlier minimum of C, to the dismay of both students and parents.

However, debate on the right eligibility criteria will not end with the new changes, which provide some breathing space for institutions and the wider public, as institutions need to make ends meet, utilize outlays and staffing to good purpose.

Parents do not have much of a choice as to which and how a student should join higher learning institutions, and so, are satisfied of the assurance a student who has performed as low as at 3.0 GPA Level is eligible to admission, because they believe that he or she is capable of grasping the academic material the same way as the next fellow.

Though parents leave the role to oversee standards to the government, they have colleagues and at times professional associates in higher learning institutions.

The government appeared to have listened to them that it came to its sense to keep the realistic entry qualifications in place. It is evident that it is workable, and ought to be accepted in good stead from a technical point of view.

The point about entrance to higher learning faculties ought to be learning feasibility, not a drive to perfection.

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