Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter
THE Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Jonathan Moyo has ordered the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) to revert to its mandate of teaching science subjects in line with its charter.
He rounded up his countrywide tour of universities, polytechnics and teachers’ colleges yesterday.
Addressing members of staff at Nust yesterday, Prof Moyo said he was concerned that the institution had deviated from its mandate of being the mother of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) training in the country.
“Nust is a university that was established specifically to be a science and technology institution. We thought the roots had been sunk deep but the university deviated for a number of reasons which in my view they should have resisted.
“They chose the easy way out to teach commerce, humanities and arts and forgot about their founding Act. I want Nust to be back on track and spearhead the teaching of STEM in the country,” said Prof Moyo.
He said the country was soon embarking on a STEM revolution, which Nust should take advantage of.
“This is happening at a time when there is a STEM revolution in the country. They’ve the critical call of academic capacity to be back on track. Their problem is that they started when there was no STEM revolution but they were supposed to spearhead it. All universities must be driven by science and technology and Nust must live up to its expectations.
“The President has expressed concern over the deviation and this is a clarion call to Nust and all the other universities to stick to their mandates. We need to revisit our statutory mandates, review and tighten them,” said Prof Moyo.
The ministry will soon be working on a strategic plan for 2016 going forward, with universities expected to stick to their statutory mandates.
Prof Moyo acknowledged that the education system was not producing the type of students that Nust needs but insisted that the reasons are not good enough.
“Far fewer students coming out of high school have mathematics and science and Nust has to compete for the few students with universities in other countries. These are some of the reasons, but that should not have allowed the university to derail.
“This is why the curriculum in the primary and secondary education has been overhauled. From Early Childhood Development (ECD) next year they are now going to follow a STEM curriculum so that by the time the 2016 generation gets to A-Level it will be STEM competent,” said Prof Moyo.
Nust, he added has a new opportunity to grow with this generation as the mother of science and technology.
“It doesn’t take 24 years to start ECD and get through to A-Level but Nust has taken 24 years to fully implement its mandate. The result was deviation. We recognise there are other science and technology universities, which are doing well but Nust should be the mother of science and technology.
“We believe we will do very well as a country if we get the University of Zimbabwe to be the mother of universities in the country and Africa University to be the mother of non-state universities while Nust is the mother of science and technology,” said Prof Moyo.
He, however, said the disciplines must be consistent with the economy. “We should not create unemployment by training people whose skills are not required by the economy. There must be a healthy balance,” said Prof Moyo, adding that every university was trying to be like UZ by having everything and deviating from their mandates.
He emphasised the importance of prioritising research and having universities funding their own projects.
“It’s a hopeless view that the government should fund university projects. It’s a grandmother’s view. We expect universities to come up with strategies on how to provide their own funding. The government will solve what it can and the rest will be done by the universities,” said Prof Moyo.
The minister said he was happy that more universities were being established, with the country expected to have a total of 23 universities by 2017.