Polytechnic of Namibia is investigating why 41 second year students doing Software Development in the IT department failed the November 2011 examination.
The Dean of IT, Dr Heike Winchiers confirmed the failure and said that an investigation is underway to determine what caused the high failure and to find ways to help the affected students.
“Indeed, an entire class of about 11 full-time and 30 part-time students did not pass INT, which is a pre-requisite to the third year level course Internet Programming.
“However, I cannot say exactly who is to blame at this moment as an investigation is currently underway,” said Winschiers when approached for comment.
Polytechnic Director for Institutional Development and Fundraising, Kaitira Kandjii said there are several factors on the part of students that contributed to their failure.
According to him, some students involved themselves in plagiarism while others did not write all the required tests and submit required projects.
“With regard to the number of students who failed, it should be emphasised that this issue is not about the numbers but about quality and the demonstration of students’ capability and knowledge through prescribed assessment methods and tools, which students were fully aware of. A number of students failed to submit their projects, others plagiarised and a third group simply did not answer the questions appropriately,” said Kandjii.
The disgruntled students have, in the meantime, written an appeal letter to the Vice-Rector Academic Affairs & Research, Dr Andrew Niikondo who has agreed to meet them next week to map out the way forward.
In the appeal letter, a copy of which is in possession of The Villager, students demanded that they be allowed to repeat the course this semester, despite the fact that the course is offered only in the second semester.
Both Winschiers and Kandjii could not shed light on whether Polytechnic would be willing to accommodate students to repeat this semester as the decision can only be made next week when the Vice-Rector returns from South Africa.
Students said they want Polytechnic to assign new lecturers for the course, saying that the current lecturers are not helpful.
Kandjii said, “The lecturers’ primary concern is to ensure that all students fulfil the minimum requirements and demonstrate proficiency in the subjects as defined in the course outline and successfully meet the relevant course outcome. Clearly, if a ‘fail’ mark is awarded, it means that a student has failed and it is not the lecturer failing the student.”
Software Engineering Head of Department who is also the current full-time lecturer, Jens Fendler refused to discuss this matter, saying, “I don’t discuss academic issues with newspapers and you cannot just approach me like that, as you need to follow the correct channels. You must talk to the Dean of IT first.”
One of the affected part-time students, Samuel Jegede said, “Our main problem is that we do not know how we are assessed, as we never get feedback after submitting our projects and tests. And when we get feedback, it comes late. We want new lecturers who will be providing feedback on assessments regularly.”
Another student, Andrew Muteka said he does not understand how an entire class can fail a module.
“This would only mean that lecturers do not know what they are teaching us, as we answer questions according to what they would have taught us,” said Muteka.
Kandjii, however, defended the lecturers saying that they always give feedback on students’ assessments, adding that, “The two lecturers presenting the full and part-time classes are both suitably qualified to present this course and have, in fact, been doing so for several years.”
This is the first time an entire class has failed since Polytechnic was established in 1994.