Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
THERE is academic freedom in Zimbabwe as institutions of higher learning are run independent of government controls, Midlands State University (MSU), Vice Chancellor, Professor Ngwabi Bhebe has said.
Addressing academics, members of the business community and government officials at the first annual MSU interface meeting on Tuesday, Prof Bhebe said contrary to lies in the international media fronted by CNN and the BBC, there was no dictatorship in the country.
He said the Chancellor of State Universities, President Robert Mugabe, was no dictator as he allowed institutions of higher learning to operate freely.
Prof Bhebe said President Mugabe had never questioned how MSU was run from its inception in 1999 when it enrolled 400 students to 2015 when its enrolment shot up to 23,000.
Zimbabwe, he said, was the freest nation in the world and its academic sector was poised for growth.
“President Mugabe never questions how we run this institution contrary to reports from the international press which lies that there is a dictatorship in the country and which says President Mugabe is a dictator.
If we fail as MSU, we fail because we are incapable and we don’t put that on the door of the government. If we succeed, it is because we would have utilised the resource we get from the government well,” Prof Bhebhe said.
“So people out there lie.”
He said at inception in 1999, their strategic goal was to build an institution with 10 faculties and 18,000 students by 2015.
Prof Bhebe said he was thrilled to report that the major targets had been achieved.
“In terms of our core mandate as a university, nine faculties have been established with the newest and the last being the faculties of Mining Sciences and that of Medicine. With regard to student enrolment, the student population had grown to 23,000 by the end of 2015 thus surpassing the original target of 18, 000,” he said.
Prof Bhebe said rebranding of all the university’s programmes was underway. He said the idea behind rebranding programmes was to make them more attractive to beneficiaries and more relevant to the developmental aspirations of the nation.
“Taking a cue from the observations of His Excellency, the President, Cde RG Mugabe that our graduates need to be provided with such skills and knowledge as would turn them into productive citizens, the university will strengthen its entrepreneurship education and training by taking measures designed to encourage self-employment and the setting up of small to medium enterprises,” said Prof Bhebe.
He also blasted the British education system which he said was characterised by gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas and knowledge.
Prof Bhebhe said such a system does not give students any room to think outside the box.
“The British education system is the worst and is rampant here at MSU and students are victims of an osmotic system of education.
The American education system is better as students are taught everything and anything and can do everything after university,” he said.