The Sunday Mail
Michael Tome in Victoria Falls
Tertiary institutions should come up with curriculums that equips students with relevant skills for local industry to help the country switch from being a net importer of goods and services to a competitive exporter.
Limited skills and low capacity utilisation have been some of the contributory factors to the huge import bill.
It is believed that the country can leverage on innovation, scientific and technical manpower to spur local economic growth.
Technical education, therefore, has a crucial role in speeding up the country’s industrial development through developing skilled manpower.
While addressing delegates at the just-ended CEO Roundtable in Victoria Falls, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said through Education 5.0, the Government plans to produce students that are configured to offer practical solutions to industry.
“The issue is we are creating an ecosystem that enables the creation of industry, that’s the whole issue when we are talking about Education 5.0,” he said.
“Our grand plan is a well-thought framework whereby we are saying our inputs for our industrialisation should start at our colleges and universities.
‘‘The result we want, therefore, is industrialisation and modernisation of our country.
“Our classes must be configured so that we are able to produce goods on our own.”
Local universities are building innovation hubs to incubate ideas that can be commercialised.
The ministry has also been spearheading the construction of the Midlands State University (MSU) Industrial Park, which now manufactures tar for local roads; Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT)’s dairy milking parlour; Marula processing and value addition plant in Mwenezi; and University of Zimbabwe’s Industrial Park, among others.
Prof Murwira added: “Our aim is to move education above the technology curve, thus we have built a lot of innovation hubs and we are looking for private sector players to join us and grow this initiative.
“We are now producing 50 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen daily. Zimbabwe needs 150 tonnes per month; it means we can produce Zimbabwe’s needs in three days and it was done by our own scientists. Education must have a purpose and a benefit.”
Industrialisation is considered a vital cog in bolstering local competitiveness in the newly established African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Vocational education can be used as a catalyst for creating employment opportunities.
Zimbabwe’s exports also continue to be dominated by primary commodities such as gold, flue-cured tobacco, nickel, ferrochrome, chrome and industrial diamonds, which
make up about 80 percent of total exports.