Thursday, August 16, 2012

Challenges Facing Part Time Lecturers In Institutions Of Higher Learning

Education is central to development as it empowers people and strengthens nations and hence it is critical to nation's development. Investment in education benefits the individual, society and the world as a whole. A broad-based and good quality education is among the most powerful instruments known to reduce poverty and inequality. Quality education can only be achieved in a university. Quality is a good academic training based on good knowledge transfer, a good learning environment and a good relationship between teaching and research. This implies that the quality of the lecturer (who transfers knowledge and sets the learning environment) is a critical component of quality university education.

Lecturers find themselves moonlighting in addition to their full time work while others who are part time in one institution add work in other institutions. The reasons for moonlighting include the need for extra income, career development, meeting the needs of understaffed departments and changing environments.

However, part time lecturing on top of regular work comes with various challenges.

First, the lecturers have no forum for airing their concerns and these impacts negatively on the teaching/learning process. They remain docile in an environment that requires open interaction with their full time counterparts. Second, it is difficult to balance between full time and part time work thereby making it hard to plan for the available time. In addition, they are never sure of getting part time teaching and as such they cannot predict how to plan their time.

Third, accurate payments, low payments and being paid on time are a big challenge. They do not benefit from institutional deductions for medical cover, car loans, computer loans, annual leave, pension scheme and insurance cover. Payments are irregular and there are delays that sometimes take two to three months particularly at the end of the semester. Four, lack of choice of friendly courses for part time teaching means that lecturers are not imparting the right knowledge to the students. They are sometimes given courses that remain unallocated to full time lecturers and these may not be in their strong areas of specialization. To avoid doing without a course to teach they accept them because they cannot choose for themselves what they desire to teach. Five, these lecturers are overworked when they move from one institution to another and taking too much workload. Chances of taking many courses are there because there is no system of monitoring the loads they have elsewhere.

In addition, they lack time to prepare for lessons, administer assignments and mark to beat the deadlines for the various institutions. Six, commitment to one's work is important for good service delivery. Part time lecturers, however, are never committed to the institutions they work in for once they are through with their teaching they leave. They cannot be expected to be loyal to the dictates, vision and mission of these institutions because they are there for a short while only. The worst scenario is when part time lecturers feel unwanted by their full time counterparts; sometimes even looked down upon and discriminated against.

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