Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has asked higher learning institutions to consider increasing enrolment figures for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at Kwekwe Polytechnic yesterday, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Professor Francis Gudyanga said evidence shows that the world’s developed nations have utilised STEM in finding technological solutions and innovation to the success of their economies.
“The ministry has mandated all state higher and tertiary education institutions in the country to re-consider their enrolment dynamics to ensure that there is an increase in the uptake of STEM related courses. Through STEM we intend to see our polytechnics being technology incubators and start-up hubs that are necessary for industrialisation and modernisation of our nation,” he said.
“Without the integration of STEM there cannot be any meaningful home-grown development. Otherwise we would see a situation where we will perennially import technologies to extract and process our resources instead of creating our own.”
Dr Gudyanga said his ministry was finalising a policy to transform all polytechnics in the country into degree-awarding institutions.
He said polytechnics will offer STEM-related B-Tech degree programmes that provide technological solutions to Zimbabwe’s industrialisation and modernisation challenges.
“The key variable in the fruition of the Ministry’s initiative to transform polytechnics is staff development. Institutions need to have a clear staff development programme where lecturers study towards B –Tech, M-Tech, D-Tech and other STEM qualifications,” said Prof Gudyanga.
He said the introduction of the Industrial Metallurgy discipline at Kwekwe Polytechnic, a response to the demands of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, was a positive development for the institution and the country. Such responsiveness, Prof Gudyanga said is very encouraging.
“It makes our existence as developers of human capital relevant. In turn the Ministry seeks to undertake a more systematic and wholesome analysis of the specific human capital needs of various regions around the country in which our universities, teachers’ colleges, polytechnics and industrial training colleges are located,” he said at an event where 765 students, 464 males and 301 female from various fields graduated.
Yesterday’s graduation took to 17 718 the number of students who have graduated at the polytechnic since 1983 when it was established. “Kwekwe Polytechnic has also produced 8 265 graduates to date in the engineering discipline representing 47 percent of the total graduands,” said the permanent secretary.
He commended out-going Kwekwe Polytechnic principal Mr Cephas Mbudzi for the drive, diligence, determination and the energy he exuded in his exercise of duty. — @pchitumba1