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Zambia 2015 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Alvert N. Ng'andu, Executive Director & CEO, Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS), on establishing advance degree programs, the role of international partnerships, and promoting research through the center.

Dr. Alvert N. Ng'andu
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Alvert N. Ng’andu holds a PhD in Dynamics from the University of Nottingham, UK, an MSc in Automobile Product Engineering from the Cranfield Institute of Technology, UK, and a B.Eng. (Mechanical Engineering) from the University of Zambia. A qualified Court-Annexed Mediator with training in Arbitration, Alvert has served, and is serving on various boards and committees of national significance including the Lusaka Vocational Training Centre Management Board, the Engineers’ Registration Board, and the Technology Development and Advisory Unit Board and many more. Administratively, Alvert has served as Head of Department, Assistant Dean and Dean of the School of Engineering and Registrar at the University of Zambia. He is currently the Executive Director & CEO of the Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS).

How has the center evolved over the past year?

In August 2014, we introduced long-distance learning programs, initially with three degrees in financial services, computing with education, and accounting with education. The two programs that have an educational component are particularly interesting to us because we targeted teachers of commercial or ICT-related subjects in high schools. These teachers are eager to study these programs, but cannot attend full-time education, as they are too busy working. For this reason distance learning has emerged as a promising solution. The three programs started out with 44 students, but these numbers quickly grew to around 100. We have four new degree programs that will start in August 2015, including a Bachelor's in accounting, which will be run in collaboration with the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZiCA), a Bachelor's degree in Business Entrepreneurship, a Bachelor's in Business Administration and a Bachelor's degree in accounting and finance. We are already offering a Bachelor of Business Studies in partnership with the University of Greenwich. The second major development is that we have begun to implement a new organizational structure for the institution in response to the growth of the institution and the increasing number of programs. We decided to establish directorates for administration; consultancy, research and distance education; and finance, as well as dedicated directorates for academic and professional programs.

What is your strategy for postgraduate studies?

Three members of our staff have completed their PhD studies in the past year. We have not introduced any postgraduate programs to date, but have a postgraduate MBA/MA program with the University of Greenwich, as well as a Master of Science degree in Information Systems Management, again with the University of Greenwich. Several members of our staff are undertaking PhD studies, thus this is an area we are expanding. Further we are specifically developing a postgraduate degree in project management. For the future, the vision is to introduce postgraduate programs in accountancy in addition to other subjects.

Are you looking to find new partnerships?

Certain partnerships have not worked out very well, so we want to review them. There are opportunities to partner with some institutions in the UK and to source leadership training opportunities from there. We will also be looking to South Africa and the Far East.

What role does research play within the center?

In the ZCAS Legal Mandate, encapsulated in the ZCAS Act, it says that the organization should be involved in research and put out research that feeds into policy formulation in the country. Unfortunately, since ZCAS was set up 27 years ago, this is an activity that has not really taken precedence or received adequate attention. In an effort to try and get this activity off the ground, we have signed an MOU with ZIPAR, the Zambian Institute for Policy Analysis and Research. We want to work with them so that my staff can be acquainted with research methods and practices.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We would like to see some publications coming out of the research that will be done by ZCAS staff within a year's time. I am looking to see more PhD students qualifying from ZCAS also. We are already thinking about programs that we will be introducing next year, and already have about three on the table that we are working on. Ultimately, I am hoping that ZCAS will have its own mandate to award degrees, which we are currently unable to do.