Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
Government says it will this year increase enrolment at all tertiary institution by 20 percent to ensure that all students with requisite qualifications are enrolled.
Speaking at a meeting with Vice Chancellors, lecturers, academics and captains of industry convened by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the Chancellor of all State universities, Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Minister, Professor Amon Murwira said they are committed to ensuring education for all.
“We are committed to ensuring that every student that has passed Advanced Level with requisite qualifications, goes to either a tertiary institution or university. We will make efforts to increase enrolment by 20 percent this year,” said Prof Murwira.
Last year, the country’s student population from the country’s 15 universities stood at 99 284. Midlands State University had the highest enrolment with 16 714 students followed by the University of Zimbabwe that had 12 779.
Prof Murwira urged the private sector to partner universities to develop infrastructure at the institutions of higher learning.
“As well, we are committed as to your directive your Excellency that private public sector partnerships, build-operate and transfer projects are going to be adopted at universities so that we build accommodation for our students, we build infrastructure for learning space.
“We are saying to the business community take this opportunity. We are not prepared to be receiving fees that should be building infrastructure, we are saying build infrastructure and collect the fees. Take your profit and leave us with our infrastructure,” said Prof Murwira.
The Higher Education Minister said polytechnics and teachers’ colleges should stick to their mandate.
“At the same time we have heard polytechnics, teachers’ colleges crying to offer degrees, we are saying no, remain doing what you are doing but we are going to enable progression through the national qualifications framework programme such that if one is interested to go to university you can always go through a pathway. Polytechnics and teachers’ colleges were never created by mistake and universities were never created by mistake,” he said.
Prof Murwira said his Ministry’s mandate was to train and develop skilled personnel and promote science and technology development. He said although the country’s education sector had transformed since 1980, there was a need to invest in research and innovation based on national priority.
“We are saying as universities, it’s time to transform that brain into goods and services and through your leadership your Excellency you have allowed us to have several programmes that include the setting up of innovation centres at universities that would definitely be the centres that are bridges between knowledge and industry. It’s nice to say we are very literate but we should use that literacy for development,” said Prof Murwira.
“We are also going to ensure that there is a framework for Zimbabwe to enter the space age by giving Zimbabwe space signs capability and also implement programmes that lead to development in several areas. We are also through your leadership going to make sure that we train science teachers so that we are basically improving quality of science teaching”.
Prof Murwirwa said although Zimbabwe ranks high in terms of literacy, it must be accompanied by high end skills to foster development.
“So we are basically saying, literacy is fine, but it’s just a pre-condition of things to come. Yes we can read and write letters but at the end of the day we need goods and services. I think the time for feel good mentality is gone.
“We have to challenge ourselves to grow the economy, cognisance your Excellency of your clarion call to grow the economy and incorporate elements of market economy of which enterprise is allowed, encouraged and protected.
“The nation must now follow a radical approach to the application of science and technology to realise and turn around the economy in the shortest possible time,” he said.
Minister Murwira said in the 100-day plan they were going to embark on a skills audit which was last done in 1984. — @AuxiliaK