Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo says there is an urgent need for a re-look into the educational system and content to align it with current market demands. He said that this was critical if the country is to generate the right graduates. Speaking during the opening of the Research and Intellectual Outputs Expo, Science, Engineering and Technology, (RIO SET) 2015, the minister acknowledged that though our economic environment was depressed, irrelevant degrees were making graduates unemployable.
“Thousands today have irrelevant degrees, making them unemployable; these degrees do not speak to the current market demands.
“Although we are currently experiencing an economic slowdown, we need to equip our students with relevant degrees which solve our problems,” he said.
Most institutions in Zimbabwe are inclined towards commercial subjects, which have resulted in very few students opting for other fields of study such as science and technology.
“Out of the nine state universities we have an enrolment of 67 420 students as at 2014 and 50 623 of those student were enrolled in commercial related subjects and only 16 797 are in science and technology but we want to say we are investing a lot in science and technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) while the numbers do not support that.
“We are not doing enough since 52 percent of the total enrolment is in humanities while 29 percent are doing commercials and only 19 percent are doing STEM, we need to reflect on this anomaly,” he said.
Professor Moyo also said that students who get higher points are likely going to study medicine and few of those will opt for STEM (science, technology engineering or maths), which has resulted in a serious decline in the number of students studying science- related subjects.
The minister also advocated for industry and various stakeholders involvement to see how best research and intellectual work by Zimbabweans both at home and in the diaspora is being harnessed for national development and how the expo can be used as a platform for knowledge sharing, networking and brainstorm new research ideas across the disciplines.
“These expos should always have checks and balances to see where we need to improve or refocus and understand if at all we are achieving the goals since we have reached a national consensus that we are our own economic liberators.
“So the constraints bedevilling our economy should be taken as an opportunity to introduce social transformations that aim to redefine society as espoused in the country`s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset,” he said.
Professor Moyo also said that there was lack of evidence of work on science and research projects even though there is a general tacit understanding that Government has invested a lot into research and institutions as well report that they are producing lots of research solutions.
Responding to the same sentiments during an exclusive interview with TechnoMag, Professor Jonathan Moyo said.
“It’s a no brainer. We need to align the institutions with the markets and set them back on track since they have deviated from their mandate as they are graduating in commercials and humanities, and at times this is caused by lack of students with right entry qualifications,” he said
The minister also bemoaned the budget allocation for the education sector and suggested that a higher allocation would greatly improve the sector.
Various research, innovations and scientific projects were showcased with more than 100 stands exhibiting.
◆ The writer is the editor for TechnoMag, Zimbabwe`s Premiere Technology Magazine, More In depth from www.technomag.co.zw follow us on our social platforms Twitter: @TechnoMagZw, Facebook: www.facebook.com/technomagzw