Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appealed to institutions of higher and tertiary learning to provide education and skills that are relevant to the country’s immediate economic developmental challenges while also coming up with technologies that benefit present and future generations.
He said the institutions should recognise the agricultural sector and agro-based value chain industries as an integral part of the economy.
President Mnangagwa, who is Chancellor of all State universities, said this while addressing Vice Chancellors, lecturers, academics and captains of industry during a meeting he convened to interface with heads of higher and tertiary institutions in Harare yesterday.
“Institutions of higher learning should not be satisfied with a very high literacy rate or about many graduates who have passed through their gates. They should instead harness their collective skills and intellectual capacity within their respective institutions to develop our beloved country. Education should be productive, it should be responsive and relevant to the society’s needs for present and future generations,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said the pursuit for industrialisation and economic growth in Zimbabwe demanded tertiary institutions to think creatively about the manufacturing sector, value addition and beneficiation, import substitution, export promotion and development of small to medium enterprises.
“Institutions of higher learning should also recognise the agricultural sector and agro-based value chain industries as an integral part of our economy. Equally, they have a leading role in shaping the economy through science and technology being the test beds for innovation and educating future generations,” he said.
Questions, said President Mnangagwa, had to be asked regarding how tertiary institutions fit in the mode of industrialisation and international trade policies.
“I therefore exhort local universities to establish academic synergies with industry, commerce and other renowned international universities or centres of academic excellence to boost their capacity in research and technology development through academic cooperation,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said there was a need to reward those who excelled in creativity and innovation, and called for the protection of their intellectual property.
“In this regard, I exhort the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to ensure that copyrights, patents and all other rights of inventors, innovators, scientists and technologists are fully protected. More concerted efforts must be made to fight against piracy; this vice dampens the spirit of innovation and creativeness,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said corruption, which he continues to condemn, usually thrives in a society where people readily forego what is true and good in exchange for selfish interests and undeserved wealth.
“Deplorable corrupt and immoral tendencies that have seen undeserving students getting passes must go. Our children, both male and female alike, should not be subjected to abuse in whatever form, for marks or higher grades. Learners must be free to report any cases of corruption without fear or favour and perpetrators should be brought to book,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Real men do not prowl our university campuses and take advantage of our young girls’ socio-economic backgrounds to abuse them in whatever form or style. To that end, the role of universities in the preservation of national identity, cultural heritage and moral societal fibre cannot be over-emphasised.
“I thus exhort all higher learning institutions to endeavour to protect, promote and preserve these cultural values and practices which enhance the dignity, well-being and equality of Zimbabweans as enshrined in our Constitution.”
He said Government would construct accommodation facilities for students and staff through Public-Private Partnership and Build, Operate and Transfer models.
Yesterday’s event was attended by the country’s two Vice Presidents — General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) and Kembo Mohadi; Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, Cabinet Ministers and senior Government officials and captains of industry.