The President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa early this year appealed to institutions of higher learning to provide education and skills that are relevant to the country’s immediate economic developmental challenges. Cde Mnangagwa said the institutions should recognise the agricultural sector and agro-based value chain industries as an integral part of the economy.
He said institutions of higher learning should not be satisfied with a very high literacy rate or about many graduates who have passed through their gates.
It is encouraging to note that a few months after this appeal, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development is already working on measures to make higher education relevant to the country’s developmental challenges.
Higher Education Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the ministry was already spearheading the establishment of innovation hubs and industrial parks at universities meant to raise the profile of innovation, entrepreneurship as well as research development in the country.
He said the industrial parks and innovation hubs will help create fertile ground for collaboration between students, academics and industry. “This trajectory to foster industrialisation and modernisation through innovation and research will also address challenges faced by communities in order to improve livelihoods,” said Prof Murwira.
Cde Mnangagwa said the pursuit for industrialisation and economic growth demanded tertiary institutions that think creatively about the manufacturing sector, value addition and beneficiation, import substitutions, export promotion and development of small to medium enterprises. This, we want to believe, is what the establishment of innovation hubs and industrial parks at universities seeks to achieve.
Minister Murwira said in order to ensure the institutions of higher learning have the required infrastructure, Government has engaged investors to develop state- of-the-art infrastructure for the institutions. He said the modern infrastructure was meant to create an inspiring environment for nurturing students.
Companies that invest in the development of institutions of higher learning are in fact investing in the country’s future. These institutions of higher learning can only produce graduates that have skills relevant to the country’s developmental challenges if they have the required infrastructure.
Government realised that it does not have the required resources to put up the modern infrastructure hence it invited investors to participate in the programme. It is industry that requires graduates with relevant skills and there is therefore every reason for industry to invest in the programme meant to equip the institutions of higher learning.
We want at this juncture to implore companies to join Government in resourcing these institutions of higher learning so that they churn out graduates with relevant skills.