Var­sity towns edge closer to re­al­ity

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Sharon Mun­jen­jema

THE com­pre­hen­sive re­view and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of Zim­babwe’s higher and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of univer­sity towns, is part of a de­lib­er­ate ef­fort to also lure stu­dents from the re­gion and be­yond to study here, a Cab­i­net min­is­ter has said.

The scheme - to be mar­keted through the Study in Zim­babwe Pro­gramme - has se­cured Cab­i­net ap­proval, and mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs for some univer­sity towns have been com­pleted.

Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Amon Mur­wira said the first phase in­volved up­grad­ing Zim­babwe’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

“We want to start to struc­ture our higher and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in a way that at­tracts stu­dents from the re­gion to come and study here. It’s within our first 100 days (work pro­gramme) and we have al­ready started do­ing the work.

“We started that jour­ney by stan­dar­d­is­ing our qual­i­fi­ca­tions and cri­te­ria for pro­mo­tion of our lec­tur­ers through the Zim­babwe Na­tional Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Frame­work. This is all so that our ed­u­ca­tion and our pro­fes­sors can be trusted,” said Prof Mur­wira. ZNQF was gazetted in July. Govern­ment is now fo­cus­ing on es­tab­lish­ing univer­sity towns.

Ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs have been com­pleted and ap­proved for the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe, Chin­hoyi Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and Bin­dura Univer­sity of Sci­ence Ed­u­ca­tion; while construction of stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion at Lu­pane and Gwanda State uni­ver­si­ties, as well as Maron­dera Univer­sity of Agri­cul­tural Sciences and Tech­nol­ogy is un­der­way.

“Our next stop is univer­sity towns. The ar­chi­tec­tural di­a­grams for UZ, Chin­hoyi and Bin­dura have al­ready been com­pleted and ap­proved,” Prof Mur­wira said.

CBZ has in­jected $150 mil­lion to­wards the projects.

Over­all, fund­ing com­mit­ments to the sec­tor have soared to $2,3 bil­lion fol­low­ing the Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Con­fer­ence in Harare on March 9.

BancABC is ex­pected to pour $12 mil­lion to­wards in­fra­struc­ture at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Med­i­cal School and a shop­ping com­plex at the in­sti­tu­tion.

South West Group, an In­dia-head­quar­tered construction com­pany, has com­mit­ted to build­ing learn­ing hos­pi­tals at UZ and Mid­lands State Univer­sity, while Chi­nese Poly In­ter­na­tional Group will build stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion at state uni­ver­si­ties.

Cen­sus Eq­uity and the Zim­babwe Di­as­pora Group will also be­gin construction soon in line with Govern­ment’s vi­sion to cre­ate univer­sity towns. The lat­ter has signed a $125 mil­lion deal with Govern­ment.

Stratfin Pri­vate Lim­ited has com­mit­ted $300 mil­lion to­wards a state-of-theart ho­tel at the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe cam­pus. Fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies have started.

On the Stu­dents Ac­cess to Tech­nol­ogy Pro­gramme, Govern­ment has fi­nalised agree­ments with Liq­uid Tele­com and DevTech, a Rwan­dese tech­nol­ogy com­pany.

Liq­uid Tele­com will set up In­ter­net in­fra­struc­ture and pro­vide free WiFi.

A $5 mil­lion fa­cil­ity from DevTech will en­able stu­dents to pur­chase lap­tops on credit. Prof Mur­wira said Govern­ment was en­gag­ing pri­vate com­pa­nies that mar­ket higher and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“We plan to con­tract them to also mar­ket our lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions out­side the coun­try on a com­mis­sion and Zim­cheer is still work­ing out on the spe­cific amounts,” he said.

Talks with the Home Af­fairs Min­istry to re­lax the visa and im­mi­gra­tion regime of for­eign stu­dents are un­der­way.

Ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs for stu­dents’ ac­com­mo­da­tion have been com­pleted and ap­proved for the Maron­dera Univer­sity of Agri­cul­tural Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy.

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