Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
HIGHER and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo leads a 19-member delegation on a tour of various leading universities across the globe to learn how to incubate industries in line with STEM objectives.
The process involves growing an industry through scientific innovation.
The delegation, which comprises 10 Vice Chancellors from State Universities and officials from the Higher Education Ministry, left Zimbabwe on Friday on a three-week working trip to universities in South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Cuba.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa said the tour to science universities in Asia and South America is meant to enable the minister and Vice Chancellors to tour industries that are incubated by universities.
Dr Gandawa said the Ministry had rolled out a reform process to re-align current mandates structure, institutional governance and legislative frameworks, programmes, projects and research plans for industrialisation and modernisation through STEM revolution.
“These reforms are aimed at strengthening the capacity of universities to produce quality research, teaching and learning environment where universities incubate industries.
“Incubation of these industries will stimulate economic growth for the nation, facilitate hands-on research, design and technology, industrial attachment and increase revenue streams,” said Dr Gandawa.
He said the ministry was in the process of formulating and drafting a single Act for all sectors.
“Furthermore, and most importantly, the delegation will learn best practices and experiences in industrialised economies. Experiences and lessons to be learnt on industry and incubation resonate with Zimbabwe’s Industrialisation and Modernisation Strategy (ZIMIMROST) and the Zim-Asset goal of socio- economic transformation through value-addition and beneficiation,” said Dr Gandawa.
He said local universities are set to benefit through interaction and collaborations with institutions like the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), All Medical Institutes from India and University of Havana, RWTH Aachen University.
Other universities identified as areas of collaboration include the University Tecknologi Petronas in Malaysia, which specialises in Petro chemicals and National University of Singapore.
Dr Gandawa said collaborations between industry and universities are key in the transformation of the country’s economy.
“As a country we need to pay serious attention to the effectiveness of our national innovation systems, especially the collaborations between universities and industry which have an opportunity to turn around the fortunes of our economy on many fronts,” he said.
The delegation will make its first stop at Chungnam National University in South Korea before proceeding to Singapore.
The Ministry last year introduced the STEM initiative in high schools to encourage the uptake of science learning as the country’s universities were facing a challenge of a shortage in their science and engineering faculties.
Prof Moyo has in the past expressed concern over the high enrolment of students who would have majored in commercial subjects at advanced level into science and technology universities.
He has queried why science universities in the country were neglecting their mandate of science, technology and engineering and majoring in social sciences and commercial faculties.
“Why are we having more students doing commercial subjects at a science and technology institution? Every university you go, there are more commercial students.
‘‘Those in science and technology driven programmes should be the wealth creators and those doing commercial subjects will come in to manage the wealth,” said Prof Moyo.
“Science and technology driven institutions should show that they are knowledge institutions through Patents and Intellectual Property born out of researches that bring solutions to society’s needs”.