Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
HIGHER and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Jonathan Moyo has assured the nation that Government will not neglect state universities and concentrate on the new private Robert Gabriel Mugabe University.
Cabinet last week approved plans to build a $1 billion high-tech university in Mashonaland Central Province in honour of President Mugabe’s visionary leadership and indelible mark in the development of the country’s education system.
Addressing Vice Chancellors and Zimdef officials at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) last Friday, Prof Moyo said the new university named after the President will be a private institution.
The Minister said due to the fact that the university is in recognition of the Head of State, the state has a role to play in setting it up.
He said Government was aware of the challenges being faced by state universities.
“We’re not going to neglect other universities because we have a new university coming. We know the challenges that our universities are facing and that’s why I’m here with the Vice Chancellors to discuss those challenges.
“People in our country need to appreciate the role of universities. This is a special initiative that will benefit the transformation of higher education in our country. It is going to be the first fully fledged graduate university, not just a STEM but a private university,” said Prof Moyo.
The Minister said the university was a special institution that has to do with appreciating the legacy of the President and uphold his strong values that have distinguished him as an outstanding international Pan African leader.
He said the university would be expecting first class and upper second students in various STEM fields who therefore will be researching cutting edge projects.
“I’m sure the transformation that we’re working on will lead to some of the universities here having similar projects but that will take a long time.
“This is in line with the setting up institutions that improve the quality of life for our communities. This would be the first university that would have the ability to do that,” said Prof Moyo.
He said to ensure that the RGM University is not disturbed by political irrationality, Government had to find the best institutional arrangement.
“The best arrangement informed by experiences elsewhere is to institutionalise the legacy through a foundation. So we have the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Foundation under whose auspices this university will be established.
“Due to the fact that the university is in recognition of our Head of State, the state has a role to play in setting up both the foundation and the university.
“The grant is a once-off grant but it doesn’t mean that it would be made available in full. That will be for Treasury to decide. We can’t build a university overnight. Universities are multi-billion dollar investments.
“There is no university that would cost $800 million to build, especially of this nature. It would be far much more expensive than that.
“This means some other efforts will have to be made through well-wishers to make sure that it has the right facilities which are appropriately equipped to deliver that kind of curriculum at that kind of level to attract highly qualified people who are super specialists in their own right,” said Prof Moyo.
University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Prof Levi Nyagura, who is the chairperson of the taskforce that is spearheading the new project said the university will focus on applied research.
“It’s proposed that the broad curriculum of the R.G. Mugabe University should concentrate on critical areas most exclusively and the graduate level.
“These discipline cluster areas include computer engineering, nanoscience and nanotechnology engineering, actuarial and mathematics sciences, architectural and structural engineering, telecommunications and electronic engineering, biomedical engineering, biotechnology engineering and international relations and geospatial intelligence,” said Prof Nyagura.
He said the task force will select experts from across all universities when it starts putting up the working groups.
“These experts from different universities have to make a contribution to this important project. In some cases we might have to send them outside the country to go and look at specific facilities and equipment that will support the kind of research and training at the post graduate level,” said Prof Nyagura.
He said the task force had proposed eight working groups.