Kudos to Africa University medical School
ZIMBABWE is experiencing a yawning skills shortage in STEM-related fields and universities need to revisit their business models.
These are areas of economic importance like mining, agriculture and telecommunications, which are constantly expanding in scope, creating the need for a continued replenishment of talent.
In this regard, universities should vigorously focus on producing for the future. It is a stubborn fact that failure by our institutions of higher learning to follow this trajectory will not stop the world from undergoing continuous change and advancement.
So our varsities simply need to think outside the box. Gone are the days of professors scribbling theories on chalkboards, students submitting hard copy assignments, results being plastered in newspapers and notice boards.
It is against this background that we applaud Africa University (AU) for being futuristic in its response to the demands for change.
AU should be commended for reading into the future through the establishment of a medical school.
AU has also set its sight on establishing another critical faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology.
We say kudos to AU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa and his team for leveraging and transforming Manicaland’s first varsity into an anchor of industrialisation and modernisation through research, innovation technology solutions and commercialisation.
No wonder why the stature of AU has been swirling following its rating as the second best university in the country.
On that note, and while celebrating the standalone status of the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences, it is our wish that it takes a cue from AU’s strides and announce its presence as a 21st century institution.
The two varsities should be conversant with up-to-date and cutting edge technologies.
Its either they adapt or become obsolete. Moreso, they should not only adopt technology, but have a intrinsic culture of technological innovation and invention to enable them to persistently produce new and exciting high-tech solutions and products that can improve Manicaland and Zimbabwe’s economic activities.
Government invested a fortune in the STEM programme that is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.
$579 612 has been invested in the learning of Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subject in Manicaland — with 1 614 students from the province benefiting.
$319 735 has been invested on Lower Six and $259 878 for Upper Six.
And come 2018, AU and MSUAS should be fully prepared to harness these great minds and manufacture our own Zuckerbergs out of some of them.
We hope that the STEM initiative, currently confined to 38 schools in Manicaland, spreads its tentacles to all corners of the province.
The private sector should also play ball and support the STEM initiative through investments in laboratories in secondary schools because at this rate, too many potential students are being lost because not all schools are offering science subjects.
Last year, Manicaland had 484 students, and this year the number has sky-rocketed to 1614, which means with solid science foundation in all secondary school, it can quadruple.
We applaud the initiatives by Government to create tripartite convergence with industry and universities, but we strongly feel that polytechnics, colleges and schools should be part of it.
The entire Zimbabwe education sector has to transform from the archaic, traditional teaching and academic research model to cater for the dynamics of a technology-driven 21st century world.
They should produce end products that meet or exceed needs of industry.
We so strongly believe so because the relentless development of digital technology is transforming every corner of modern society — from health to business, retail to manufacturing.
There is no escaping its huge impact on secondary or higher education too.
These higher education institutions have no choice when it comes to embracing digital transformation. They have a mandate to deliver the techfirst experience that today’s students and industry expect.
The vast majority of students embarking on university education today are millennials — natural adopters of technology.
So, our educational institutions must follow suit.