ZIMBABWE could have started its own high tech revolution by deliberately adopting a policy to promote the learning of science technology, engineering and mathematics, which are now known as STEM and are being promoted through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.
By offering free education to all pupils who will register for science subjects when they enrol at Advanced Level this year, the government is showing that it is not paying lip service to the policy but it’s actually dead serious about implementing it. With the government paying for their tuition and boarding fees, pupils who will embark on their A-Level studies in subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology will have time to totally focus on their work with their parents and guardians now only taking care of their welfare.
We feel the move by the government is justified and the expenditure worthwhile considering the immense benefits that will accrue to the nation in the form of engineers, information communication technology experts, doctors and other related fields in future.
More pupils will also be enticed to study science subjects at school and this will increase the pool of students who eventually take up STEM degree programmes at university level. Zimbabwe’s new industrialisation thrust as espoused in Zim-Asset requires STEM skills and the move by the government will address this problem while positioning the country for sustainable socio-economic transformation.
In announcing the ground-breaking policy on Wednesday, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said: “There is solid evidence that the fastest growing and highest earning careers in future will be in STEM fields. Available evidence supports the view that currently sustainable socio-economic transformation is driven by investing in STEM disciplines.
“Employees and employers will need to utilise STEM skills in industrialising the economy, addressing issues of unemployment and in empowering the young through promotion of science and innovation.”
We concur with him and hail the decision to offer all Lower Six pupils who register for STEM subjects an opportunity to win a trip of a lifetime to Microsoft and other Silicon Valley STEM companies in the United States of America. These and other incentives unveiled by the government will heighten interest in this sector which is the fastest growing industry in the whole world.
Silicon Valley is a nickname for the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area and is home to many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, as well as thousands of startup companies. There is a saying in the US that if you want to make a fortune in technology, it’s no secret that California is the place to be. A full 40 percent of the billionaires on Forbes’ newly released list of the world’s 100 Richest in Tech live in California, far surpassing any other state in the US.
There are 10 billionaires in the Silicon Valley, eight of whom founded their own companies. Together they 10 are worth a collective $227 billion. As of 2013, the region employed about a quarter of a million information technology workers. Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Oracle Lerry Ellison tops the list of California tech men with a net worth of $50 billion.
He is now the second richest man in tech (behind Bill Gates) and the fifth richest man in the world. Other billionaires include Workday founder David Duffiled who has a $6.9 billion fortune. California’s second richest tech titan is Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose net worth of $41.2 billion has quadrupled in the past three years as the social media giant he founded in 2004 has grown to global dominance.
Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook’s third employee and Zuckerberg’s college friend, left Facebook in 2008 to found software firm Asana. He has a net worth of $9.6 billion which makes him the eighth richest Californian tech billionaire.
WhatsApp founder Jan Koum became a billionaire in 2014 when Facebook bought his mobile messaging app — now the biggest in the world with more than 800 million users — for $19 billion. He’s California’s ninth richest billionaire in tech with a net worth of $7.9 billion. China — the world’s second largest economy — has its fair share of tech billionaires.
Zimbabwe is therefore on the right path in promoting STEM as it is laying the groundwork for future industrialisation. The government has already embarked on a defined path to promote industrialisation and beneficiation and value addition of minerals as aspects of the economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.
President Robert Mugabe also managed to awaken Africa to the promotion of industrialisation as the chairperson of the African Union and the continental body as a clear vision of having industrialised by 2063. The promotion of science subjects is only the beginning in a long journey towards industrialisation, innovation, empowering youths and economic boom.