Var­si­ties must lead drive to Vi­sion 2030: Pres­i­dent

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - From Ge­orge Maponga in MASVINGO

ZIM­BABWE’S universiti­es must con­sol­i­date mod­erni­sa­tion and in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion agen­das in line with Vi­sion 2030 and use their in­no­va­tion hubs and in­dus­trial parks to pro­duce goods and ser­vices that im­pact on all sec­tors of the na­tional econ­omy, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said yes­ter­day.

Speak­ing af­ter Great Zim­babwe Univer­sity (GZU)’s 14th grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony held vir­tu­ally in line with Covid-19 reg­u­la­tions, the Pres­i­dent said universiti­es should be nerve cen­tres of the drive to ac­cel­er­ate mod­erni­sa­tion and in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion through com­ing up with in­ven­tions and solutions to chal­lenges af­flict­ing the coun­try. Al­ready, GZU is at the fore­front. The Pres­i­dent com­mis­sioned a $10 mil­lion tex­tile fac­tory at GZU In­dus­trial Park Com­plex in the Masvingo In­dus­trial area. This park is also booked for a food preser­va­tion fac­tory and a science in­no­va­tion fac­tory that will in­clude a bot­tling plant and a sani­tiser-man­u­fac­tur­ing plant.

GZU’s tex­tile fac­tory has been cen­tral in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) for health work­ers in the prov­ince and face masks for or­di­nary peo­ple in the bat­tle against Covid-19.

Prior to the vir­tual grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony and open­ing of the fac­tory, the —

Pres­i­dent, who is GZU Chan­cel­lor, had com­mis­sioned the Robert Mu­gabe School of Ed­u­ca­tion nearby, which was built un­der the univer­sity’s multi-cam­pus sys­tem and named af­ter for­mer Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe in recog­ni­tion of his lead­ing role in the de­vel­op­ment of ed­u­ca­tion in post-in­de­pen­dent Zim­babwe.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing should al­ways fo­cus on reg­is­tra­tion of patents, re­search out­put, de­vel­op­ment of pro­to­types and con­tin­u­ous de­vel­op­ment of ap­pro­pri­ate prod­ucts. “Un­der Ed­u­ca­tion 5.0, we

must not look at those out­side as our saviour. In­no­va­tions, in­ven­tions and solutions which ac­cel­er­ate the mod­erni­sa­tion, in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and de­vel­op­ment of ro­bust ru­ral in­dus­try sys­tems must come from among us. In this re­gard the cen­tral­ity of lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing can­not be over-em­pha­sised,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

He un­der­scored the cru­cial role to be played by in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing as cen­tres of solutions to chal­lenges threat­en­ing the Sec­ond Repub­lic’s in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and mod­erni­sa­tion agenda.

“Con­struc­tion of in­no­va­tion hubs and in­dus­trial parks are not the ul­ti­mate end. The main in­ter­est of my Gov­ern­ment is in the prod­ucts and ser­vices that must be churned out of these fa­cil­i­ties im­pact­ing on ev­ery sec­tor of our econ­omy.”

The Pres­i­dent urged GZU and other universiti­es to reg­is­ter their patents, tak­ing a leaf from the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe which was lead­ing in that re­gard.

He also chal­lenged lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing to draw a les­son from the GZU which has im­mor­talised lo­cal and re­gional lu­mi­nar­ies in the strug­gle for self rule by nam­ing schools and the­atres af­ter them.

Among them are for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Si­mon Muzenda (Si­mon Muzenda School of Arts and Her­itage Stud­ies), Julius Ny­erere (Julius Ny­erere School of So­cial Sciences), Gary Ma­gadzire (Gary Ma­gadzire School of Agri­cul­ture), Robert Mu­gabe School of Ed­u­ca­tion and He­bert Chitepo Law School.

“This warm ges­ture im­mor­talised their con­tri­bu­tion to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle and in­de­pen­dence of our re­gion and na­tion.

“The ide­o­log­i­cal ethos, cul­ture and val­ues which they be­queathed to us; that in­de­pen­dence with­out eco­nomic eman­ci­pa­tion is empty. What must in­spire and guide present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions is to leapfrog our eco­nomic, sci­en­tific and tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment,” said the Pres­i­dent.

He com­mended GZU for be­ing the first lo­cal univer­sity to have an on-cam­pus ra­dio sta­tion.

The Pres­i­dent chal­lenged the lo­cal me­dia, both pri­vate and pub­lic, to pro­mote na­tional unity, love and hon­est hard work for the good of the coun­try.

In his ad­dress Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, In­no­va­tion, Science and Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Amon Mur­wira un­der­scored the im­por­tance of Ed­u­ca­tion 5.0, say­ing it would give im­pe­tus to the na­tional drive to­wards Vi­sion 2030.

In­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing were at the cen­tre of the coun­try’s mod­erni­sa­tion agenda and in­dus­tries did not “fall from the sky” but needed peo­ple with skills to de­velop them.

Min­is­ter of State for Masvingo Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs and De­vo­lu­tion Ezra Chadza­mira paid tribute to GZU and Vice Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Rungano Zvobgo for cre­ativ­ity and projects like sani­tis­ers pro­duc­tion and the Cam­pus Ra­dio among oth­ers.

This had pos­i­tively im­pacted on the prov­ince’s econ­omy es­pe­cially un­der Covid-19.

The open­ing of the tex­tile fac­tory by the univer­sity, he said, would go a long way in eas­ing short­ages of per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment es­pe­cially amongst front­line health work­ers in the Covid-19 fight.

Pro­fes­sor Zvobgo said be­sides be­ing a lab­o­ra­tory for stu­dents to learn prac­ti­cally, the in­dus­trial park com­plex would also be a com­mer­cial wing of the univer­sity to gen­er­ate rev­enue to aug­ment its work­ing cap­i­tal.

He sin­gled out the Cam­pus Ra­dio as one of the in­sti­tu­tion’s strate­gic busi­ness units that was al­ready mak­ing a huge im­pact in society.

Ear­lier on in his wel­come re­marks be­fore the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, Pro­fes­sor Zvobgo had high­lighted a num­ber of mile­stones made by his in­sti­tu­tion in the fight against Covid-19.

GZU had man­u­fac­tured more than 40 000 litres of hand sani­tiser, made face masks and used the Cam­pus

Ra­dio to pro­mote vir­tual learn­ing. The ra­dio was now ac­ces­si­ble in Masvingo, Mashava and Chiredzi where the univer­sity had cam­puses.

GZU was in the process of set­ting up a cen­tre for re­search in dry­land agri­cul­ture in the semi-arid Chivi district while the in­sti­tu­tion’s med­i­cal school was un­der con­struc­tion with a lot of ground hav­ing been cov­ered.

A to­tal of 4 779 stu­dents were capped but only 116 were phys­i­cally present with the rest grad­u­at­ing vir­tu­ally be­cause of Covid-19 pre­cau­tions.

Those who were phys­i­cally present ex­celled in their stud­ies with dis­tinc­tions and re­ceived awards.

Among them was Chief Mu­gabe, Mr

Matubede Mu­da­vanhu, who grad­u­ated with a Bachelor’s De­gree (Honours) in Arche­ol­ogy, Mu­se­ums and Her­itage Stud­ies. He won a univer­sity book prize and is a ben­e­fi­ciary of the Vice Chan­cel­lor’s Schol­ar­ship.

Also present at the cer­e­mony was State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Owen Ncube, GZU coun­cil chair Pro­fes­sor Man­di­vamba Rukuni and se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa of­fi­cially opens the Robert Mu­gabe School of Ed­u­ca­tion and Cul­ture Com­plex at Great Zim­babwe Univer­sity yes­ter­day. Pic­ture: Tawanda Mudimu

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