Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
CURRICULUM reviews at local universities have resulted in the introduction of over 15 new degrees in line with Government’s efforts to ensure that higher education facilitates the country’s industrialisation and modernisation programme.
The chairperson of the Taskforce on Transformation of Higher Education for Industrialisation and Modernisation, Professor Levi Nyagura, who is also the University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor, said universities were revamping their academic programmes and practices in order to address national development aspirations.
He said the taskforce was set up in May this year after 10 vice chancellors went on a study tour of leading universities in South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Cuba, Brazil.
Prof Nyagura said following the visit, vice chancellors resolved that universities must promote programmes in the Medical field, Engineering, Technology and Culture and Heritage studies.
He said since the formation of the higher education transformation taskforce, universities have undertaken curriculum reviews, physical and human resources audits and an audit of the legal and legislative frameworks to position themselves for effective engagement in the new paradigm shift.
“The initiative has seen the development and introduction of relevant new degree programmes that are targeted at providing technological products and solutions to existing challenges in the economy. The new programmes that have been introduced to date include Aeronautical Engineering, Optometry, Forensic Science, Renewable Energy, Exploration Geophysics, Applied Biotechnology, Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, Livestock Production and Value Addition, Food Processing Systems and Technology, Agricultural Mechanisation Systems and Management, Geographical Information Science and Earth Observation, Meteorology and Climate Science, Otorhinolaryngology, Orthodontics, and Culture and Heritage Studies,” said Prof Nyagura.
“The transformation process is owned and implemented by the universities. The initiative defines the new phenomenon in Higher Education where universities are taking charge of revamping the academic programmes and practices in order to address the national development aspirations,” said Prof Nyagura.
He said for universities to effectively contribute towards the development agenda, a law needs to be enacted to strengthen their work.
“In order for the universities to sustain the current momentum which includes working with various government ministries and parastatals, there is a need for the enactment of relevant regulative and legal instruments which will legitimise these new self-driven initiatives by higher education institutions. Universities are therefore hopeful that such legal instruments will be put in place as soon as possible,” Prof Nyagura said.