Herald Reporters

Universities have deferred the start of lectures for first year students from March to August to allow the synchronisation of programmes across colleges so that students can transfer and be able to continue from where they left.

The move also seeks to accommodate foreign students under the Study in Zimbabwe Programme.

The synchronisation of the programmes will be in tandem with Statutory Instrument 133 of 2018, which provides for the new arrangement.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said in an interview yesterday that the recruitment of students can go ahead now even though they will start learning in August.

“Universities have postponed the start of lectures for first year students so that their programmes can be structured in such a way that if a Civil Engineering student from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) wants to transfer to the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) for the second semester onwards, that would not be a problem since the programmes are the same and they started at the same time,” said Prof Murwira.

“We have the Study in Zimbabwe Programme, where universities are trying to attract international students and the Zimbabwe Qualifications Framework, where they are trying to synchronise their programmes, following Statutory Instrument 132 of 2018.

“So, based on this, universities said they are working on the synchronisation of programmes and they will be ready for students to start their lectures in August 2020; that is for first year students, but they will be admitted even now.”

Prof Murwira said starting in August was not new as the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) always started in that month since it did not have two intakes per year.

He said universities had their meeting on January 9 and agreed that for them to implement the Zimbabwe Qualifications Framework, they needed to start lectures for first year students at the same time.

Prof Murwira said after a meeting on Tuesday on the Study in Zimbabwe Programme, universities said they would be ready with the synchronisation exercise by June 30, 2020.

The universities will also be required to implement the new Education 5.0 Curriculum which emphasises on technology and innovation.

Prof Murwira said Education 5.0 sought to broaden the terms of reference for the universities through the addition of innovation and industrialisation.

“Our universities, instead of having three terms of reference which are teaching, research and community service (Education 3.0), we are now doing Education 5.0, which has innovation and industrialisation,” he said.

“Universities are now being given five terms of reference, that is why we are building innovation hubs to make sure that industrialisation and new products become the responsibility of universities, just like Silicon Valley is the industrial park for Stanford University.

“That is why at Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) we are starting what we call the Cattle Artificial Insemination Programme, which has potential revenue of US$140 million, which we have already finished.”

Prof Murwira said it was important to review syllabuses offered at universities, in line with Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.

“We will introduce new programmes relevant to the country’s economy,” he said.

“We do not want to short-change our parents by churning out some unemployable graduates. The ministry is working on reviewing the curriculum in line with the country’s economy.

“We want to introduce new programmes such as solar technicians, farm management, locomotive technicians, leather technicians, irrigation technicians, and avionic technicians, among others, which are relevant to the country’s economy and in line with Vision 2030.”

On farm management, Prof Murwira said skills offered at the moment were only 12 percent of requirements, hence the challenges with managing farms.

“We are producing what we call Ivory Tower mentality, meaning universities are doing something which has nothing to do with the country,” he said. “We are not training for our country, but for other countries.

“Most developed countries have transformed their economies through their education systems. This is what we are looking at.”