Drive development, Gumbo tells tertiary education institutions
Tertiary education institutions should act as vehicles for finding solutions to the challenges confronting the nation, and drive economic growth as outlined in the National Development Strategy (NDS1) economic blueprint, a cabinet minister said on Friday.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government programmes, Jorum Gumbo said this during a field visit of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Technovation Centre which is currently under construction.
The construction of the centre began in 1998, but was stalled in 2008 due to lack of funding.
The coming in of the Second Republic saw efforts being stepped up towards developing the country through availing funding for research and innovation, and construction of innovation hubs at universities across the country.
The Technovation project, which is now at 88 percent complete, is set to be completed by November this year.
The construction of the factory shells is also underway, and the applied chemistry and chemical engineering buildings are nearing completion, but already functional.
“The development that we have witnessed during the tour are a clear reflection of a change of focus in our education system that has translated into construction of innovation hubs at (institutions of) higher learning,” Gumbo said.
“The progress recorded so far meets the standards of the 100-day cycle programme in line with the realisation of the goals of the objectives captured within the vision to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
“The structure we have just toured, I am told, was initially designed to be a Campus Services Centre, but the building has since been re-purposed to the Technovation Centre as a direct response to the new emphasis of the education sector,” said Gumbo.
He said the real challenge for sustainable development in the country is the promotion of economic and industrial development, eradication of poverty, climate change, water, energy, and optimum use of natural resources.
“The expectation of the Government is that higher learning should commit to the development challenges facing our people. These institutions should therefore become vehicles for finding solutions to the challenges confronting our country and drive economic growth as outlined in the NDS1 blueprint,” said Gumbo.
He also said although important strides have been made in reforming the country`s education system, there is need to continue examining whether some of the tertiary education is relevant in the context of rapid social and economic changes in the country.
“There is a need to probe whether the research work conducted in our tertiary institutions is assisting in addressing the challenges confronting our country in the various spheres of the economy,” he said.
The Technovation centre, Gumbo said, should not be turned into a place where existing ideas are re-done or re-cast by Zimbabweans.
“Emerging innovators and their supervisors should therefore be wary of reducing the centre into a space where imitations are created. Instead, solutions from the centre should answer the most pertinent of questions in the country. Whatever is done within the centre should communicate with the key needs of the economy and vision of the
government,” he said.
He emphasised the need to prioritise local contractors in national projects in order to promote the growth and
viability of the local construction industry and the creation of more jobs in the sector.
“Government has always encouraged implementing ministries, departments, and agencies to prioritise local contractors in order to promote the growth and viability of the local construction industry.
“I hope this model will be replicated at the Higher and Tertiary Education institutions because it has been proven to be cost effective and efficient as the University has total control of the construction value chain and it addresses the scourge of profiteering by some contractors,” he said.