Triumphant weathers the Covid storm

TRIUMPHANT College Rector, Professor Geoffrey Kiangi (GK) has affirmed Triumphant College’s progressive development that has seen the institution cement its status as one of the fastest growing academic institutions in the region. In an interview with Confidente News Editor Hilary Mare (HM), Kiangi highlighted that despite the strain of Covid-19, the college has managed to remain strong and looks forward to meet its objective of the year.

(HM):  How has Triumphant’s calendar year been going so far? Would you say everything is on track?

(GK): Triumphant College is committed to offering quality education regardless of challenges of any sort. Accordingly, with the onset of Covid-19, the College has ensured that its activities calendar is minimally disrupted.

During the first semester there was a challenge when the whole country was put on lockdown, but College management immediately sat down and made some adjustments on the calendar. The semester break that was scheduled for June was brought back to the March lockdown and on the 20th of April 2020 the College resumed its classes online. The first semester exams were written a week later from the scheduled calendar date and second semester was able to start as scheduled on the academic calendar.

The College is, therefore, still on track according to the initial calendar.  Thus our second semester examinations will begin on the 2nd of November 2020 which is the original date that is on the initial College Annual Academic Calendar. We, therefore, can confidently say that the Triumphant College Calendar is fully on track have asked our lecturers to undertake extra effort to help students who were greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to prepare for their November examinations.

(HM):  To what extent has the College been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?

(GK):  Given the adjustments above, the College was not much affected in terms of time, but to a great extent in terms of teaching and learning approach, assessment, staff operations and technological aspects.  Nevertheless, the management swiftly planned to curb the risks that were there, and provided a firm path to the learning process.

The first impact was on the high number of students intending to drop out.  These were mainly students who had no access to E-Learning facilities, and as a result had challenges to go ahead with their studies under the new mode of learning. Some of them also were affected financially due to high unemployment and salary cuts caused by the pandemic because they could no longer afford to pay their fees.

Yet others had to relocate to smaller towns to cut the costs of living.

  All these caused a drastic drop in College revenue.  After encouragement and motivation, many students changed their minds and decided to courageously continue with their studies.  Those who could not return will be offered remedial classes next year before they take their examinations.

In addition to the reduction in revenue from fees, the College also incurred unexpected expenses to enable online learning.  Additional expenses were needed to buy online learning resources like computer servers, bandwidth, software and other necessary equipment.  Money was also needed to ensure the College was compliant to the Covid-19 regulations.  Since these expenditures were not planned, the College had to divert its budgeted expenditure to the pandemic mitigation requirements. This cash flow constraint had a negative impact on the College, making it difficult to keep up with the daily operating expenses.

(HM):  How have you mitigated the challenges caused by this epidemic?

(GK):  After the pandemic was declared a state of emergency by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Namibia, the College swiftly engaged in planning ahead and put in place all necessary Covid-19 measures as required by the government, to ensure awareness and pre-cautionary actions among students, staff and stakeholders. These include:

Implementation of Covid-19 protocols

The establishment of a Covid-19 Mitigation Committee to ensure that staff members and students are aware and adhere to Covid-19 rules and regulations.

Meetings with, and training for staff members and students were conducted to provide information for prevention and for dealing with the virus. In this regard, posters were displayed all around the College campuses.

Weekly disinfection of floors, walls and work surfaces in the facilities were conducted.

Provision of adequate sanitisers and hand-washing stations was made with clean water and soap for trainees, staff and visitors.

Number of students in classes were minimised to keep a social distance of 1.5m apart.

A well-controlled access to the College was set up with functional thermo-gun to screen for body temperatures. Registration books for students, stakeholders/visitors and staff members were also introduced at the main gate for contact tracing.

With all these measures in place,it would be right to say that it is quite safe to study at Triumphant College where all health protocols have been and are strictly observed.

Up-scaled our learning management system

With all this significant challenges on the academic side the College has implemented:

Both E-learning programme and in-person instruction with social distancing when lockdown was eased.

Students who had challenges with connectivity were provided with physical learning material and assignments to continue studying in the comfort of their homes. A limited number of students were allowed on campus to pick documents or to register for the next academic year, as health protocols allowed.

Emphasised on formative assessment

Instead of summative assessment, the College implemented formative assessments whereby students are given timed assignments and tests online. 

Students without connectivity were allowed to come and use the computer labs for their assignments at different intervals.

During the mitigation process, the College ensured that our students receive a quality educational experience and are protected as they navigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis, while also looking out for the well-being of the institution.

(HM):  Are there any new programmes that you introduced this year?  What are these and their social benefits?

(GK):  The College is at the final stages with NQA processing new programmes that we believe if all goes well should be fully running by 2021. As a College we always have reviews that are linked with the College strategic objectives and we realised there was a need to expand and introduce new programmes.

This year alone, despite the Covid-19 disruptions, the College was able to do three reviews of its operations, which aided in improving our teaching and service provision.  It is out of these reviews that new programmes have been developed based on the need of the industry, while at the same time the reviews afforded us an opportunity to up our game in arrears that we deemed wanting.

(HM):  How have you ensured that your curriculum strengthens from year to year?

(GK): The College is determined to ensure that quality is maintained in the teaching and learning processes as well as in assessment and in providing feedback to students. The College has been improving in terms of results and also enrolment.  Accordingly, our programmes and courses, academic staff, teaching and learning experience, students’ assessments, support services, physical facilities have been quality assured through continuous reviews so as to meet the objectives of the College and the nation at large.   With the usage of online learning, an Online Learning Policy was developed which considered the issues of resources, training of staff, technological aspects, quality and institutional culture addressing issues of who, what, when and how.  The policy has been an excellent guide to the new operational issues necessitated by the introduction of online learning.

(HM):  Your transition to your new campus in Khomasdal  – kindly share how that has been and the efficiencies that this new campus has brought to your operations?

(GK):  The construction of our new campus speaks to our commitment to quality education. It has been a long journey to complete the first phase of the new campus.

With hard work and dedication, we are excited that we have finally moved all our major operations to this new campus that is situated at Erf 482 – Kornalyn Street, in Khomasdal, close to the former Park Foods Shopping Centre.

The new campus serves as our main campus where the administration and academic offices are situated.

  Besides the administration block, our new campus offers the following facilities to our students;

Spacious air conditioned lecture halls equipped with smart boards

Engineering workshops

Cafeteria for students and relaxation spaces

Sufficient parking space

Library with a large sitting capacity providing modern resources and E-library facilities

We believe that with the new facilities and learning conditions, the efficiency of our operations has been immensely improved.

(HM):  Where would you like to see Triumphant in the next five years?

(GK): Triumphant College is fast growing.  Our vision is to become a recognised key partner in the country and the region in training, skills development and research for social economic development. In the next five years we should be able to see further improvements in line with our five-year strategic plan with regard to student services, engineering workshops, advanced technology, students’ sports facilities and leisure services in place.

(HM):  How would you rate your qualifications?

(GK): Our qualifications are quality assured and supported by the industry. The College has unique nationally and internationally accredited programmes. We regard ourselves as a comparatively small but fast growing institution with the potential to be one of the lead institutions of higher learning in certain key disciplines and specialisations. We pride ourselves of a well-qualified staff complement of academics and non-academic staff to support our teaching and learning processes as we work towards realising our vision.  Similarly, we acknowledge our students both those who are in the industry as well as those still with us for trusting us in their upward path to success.