UNIVERSITIES URGED TO FOCUS MORE ON ECONOMIC RESEARCH
Institutions of higher and tertiary education must focus on offering programmes that respond to the economy and contribute towards its revival through research, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira has said.
In his candid meeting with State universities’ vice chancellors in Harare yesterday, Prof Murwira said to achieve this, the ministry would establish innovation hubs at six State universities, which will steer science and innovation. He said the innovation hubs were part of 13 projects his ministry would focus on in the next 100 days.
“The vision of the ministry is to contribute immensely and expeditiously towards the turnaround of the economy in the shortest possible time. The ministry’s new economic trajectory should be based on the research culture, which must be inculcated and nurtured in all the universities which you are in charge of,” Prof Murwira told the vice chancellors.
These 100-day projects include conducting a skills audit meant to inform policy makers on current and future skills required for the science and technology sector, advances in technologies for critical sectors such as mining, agriculture, land use, wildlife management, water and minerals.
The plan also seeks to capacitate teachers in science teaching, promote good governance in Government and parastatals, increase absorption rate of Ordinary and Advanced level students in State universities, while addressing urgent infrastructure gap to match the increasing number of students enrolled.
Prof Murwira said his ministry would develop master plans for three more State universities in Marondera, Gwanda and Manicaland and also develop a national qualification framework that facilitated progression from basic school level education to higher education. He said all these programmes should be designed to answer challenges facing the economy, in particular and the country at large.
“This programmatic approach is aimed at developing specific areas of our economy using SMART (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Results), and time framed for quick wins. This programmatic approach will guide all our operations. It will not be business as usual,” said Prof Murwira.
Prof Murwira said his ministry would be ready to support any research and teaching programme that had national impact covering all sectors of the economy. He challenged the universities to embrace indigenous knowledge systems in their researches to solve current challenges.
Speaking during the same meeting, University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura welcomed the 100-day plan, which is largely drawn from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration speech. He said it fitted well into work they had already began as local universities to complement each other in higher and tertiary education. Prof Nyagura said local universities should make meaningful contribution to the country’s economy.
“We took a leaf from two universities we visited in Singapore where university students are producing spare parts for vehicles and we said, but we can also do this,” he said.
“So, this is what our task force, which is made up of all vice chancellors, is looking forward to achieve as we contribute to economic development.”