President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday challenged universities and other institutions of higher learning to provide education and skills that are relevant to the country’s immediate economic development challenges. Cde Mnangagwa who was addressing Vice Chancellors, lecturers, academics and captains of industry in Harare, said the institutions should recognise the agricultural sector and agro-based value chain industries as an integral part of the economy.
“Institutions of higher learning should not be satisfied with a very high literacy rate or about many graduates who have passed through their gates. They should instead harness their collective skills and intellectual capacity within their respective institutions to develop our beloved country,” said Cde Mnangagwa.
He said education should be productive, responsive and relevant to the society’s needs for present and future generations. The President said the pursuit for industrialisation and economic growth demands tertiary institutions that think creatively about the manufacturing sector, value addition and beneficiation.
Cde Mnangagwa said it was therefore important for universities to establish academic synergies with industry, commerce and other renowned international universities or centres of academic excellence to boost their capacity in research and technology development.
The call for universities and other institutions of higher learning to produce graduates that are relevant to the country’s immediate economic development challenges, comes at a time when Government has started implementing the new Education curriculum.
The new curriculum is largely based on the recommendations of the Nziramasanga Commission of Inquiry which was set up by Government in 1998. The commission concluded that the country’s education curriculum had outlived its purposefulness.
It was against this background that Cabinet approved the new curriculum. The work of universities and other institutions of higher learning has now been made easy following the implementation of the new curriculum. The new curriculum fosters entrepreneurship and opens up opportunities for pupils to be skillful and innovative.
The task of universities and other institutions of higher learning is just to further develop these skills in line with the immediate economic development challenges. The thrust now is for the education system to produce skilled entrepreneurs who create jobs for themselves as opposed to seeking employment and what is encouraging is that this is starting at primary school level right up to university.
Universities and other institutions of higher learning therefore have no excuse for failing to produce graduates demanded by our economy. We want at this juncture to implore university authorities to hit the ground running and review programmes they are offering so that they start churning out graduates that are immediately absorbed by the different sectors of our economy.