Bindura University of Science Education Vice Chancellor, Prof E. Mwenje together with other university Vice Chancellors’ converged at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) for an interface with the Head of State and Government, and Chancellor of State Universities; His Excellency Cde E.D Mnangagwa on 9th January 2018. The meeting was held under the theme, “The Role of Universities in Growing the Economy.”
The purpose of the meeting was to determine the contribution of tertiary institutions to economic development through research and teaching.
Addressing the highly subscribed meeting, the Guest of Honour, HE Cde E.D Mnangagwa commenced his speech by laying out his vision for the country to move to a new trajectory of growing the economy. He urged institutions of higher learning to harness the knowledge and skills of graduands through science; technology; research and development for economic growth, instead of just churning out graduands and focusing on literacy rate.
“Education should be productive, it should be responsive and relevant to the society’s needs for present and future generations,” said President Mnangagwa.
He placed more emphasis on research for development adding that the country was banking on institutions of higher learning for the transformation of the nation’s key sectors which are agriculture, mining and manufacturing through innovative research.
“We look upon the institutions of higher learning to lead in research and development to support the agriculture sector and industry through the adoption of water harvesting technologies and farming methods as well as other innovations in order to retain the country’s breadbasket status and boost productivity which will in turn boost our econonmy,” said President Munangagwa.
In his speech, the President also urged captains of industry to partner the government in the academic transformative agenda as they were the immediate beneficiaries of the skilled workforce.
He further went on to castigate social ills such as corruption, nepotism and abuse of students. He warned perpetrators of these depravities to desist from such felonious acts as the long arm of the law was to soon catch up with them.
“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.
The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Hon. Prof A. Murwira who was also present at the meeting highlighted some of his ministry’s 100 day plans including the establishment of innovation hubs at six state universities. He added that the ministry had an explicit mission to foster innovation by promoting learning and the sharing of ideas as hubs thrived on collaborative innovation and community, as well as on openness and diversity.
He added that universities had already embarked on a renewed path by identifying the possible areas of harnessing the expansive potential within the field of academia through establishing a Taskforce on Modernisation and Harmonisation that would ensure that tertiary institutions feed into the broader vision of economic growth. The taskforce is led by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Professor Levi Nyagura who also had the opportunity to present to the President what the team had already embarked on.
In response to the meeting’s presentations, the business representative bodies such as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Mines said that the indaba was a major stride in ensuring that the industry and tertiary institutions work together. They further pledged to expand their partnerships with tertiary institutions and pleaded with them to have special focus on developing highly skilled personnel to assist in key sectors such as energy, mining, manufacturing and agriculture.
Bindura University of Science Education has taken initiatives to support the President’s call for economic transformation by setting up a committee on Institutional Transformation. Through this committee, the University has transformed its research so that it is in line with national priorities, specifically industrialisation and modernisation.
Also present at the event were the country’s two Vice Presidents – Hon. General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) and Hon. Cde Kembo Mohadi; Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Dr D. Sibanda, senior Government officials, captains of industry, university deans, directors and academics.