BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE Higher and Tertiary Education ministry has been urged to expedite the process of amending the Manpower Planning and Development Act in order to improve the conditions of service for lectures in institutions of higher learning.
MDC Alliance proportional representative legislator Lindiwe Maphosa said this in the National Assembly after raising a motion on the state of affairs in the institutions.
Maphosa said amending the Act would improve the conditions of service for lecturers in teacher-training and polytechnic colleges by removing them from the Public Service Commission and placing them under a different Commission determining their conditions of service autonomously.
“The ministry must review the relevant legislation to allow higher and tertiary education institutions to register companies,” she said.
Maphosa said this would assist the institutions to raise their own revenue through commercialisation of their goods and services and ultimately reducing their dependence on the national fiscus.
“The ministry must come up with a framework that encourages learners and institutions to patent their products by May 2021. This will enhance ownership and also encourage innovation and commercialisation of research products in line with Education 5.0.”
She added: “The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education should come up with a framework to enter into public-private partnerships and joint ventures with the private sector to address the student and staff accommodation deficit.”
Maphosa told Parliament that the agreements should be done within the confines of the minimum norms and standards for student accommodation developed by the Zimbabwe Council of Higher Education.
“The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education should enter into an agreement with the ministries of Local Government and Public Works and National Housing to develop Student Cities. The agreement should be in place by end of June 2021,” she said.
“The ministry must stimulate inter-linkages, service level agreements and strategic synergies between the institutions of higher and tertiary education pertaining to service provision and production of goods.
“This will assist to localise the economy and encourage coordination and co-operation among these institutions. A framework should be in place by June 2021.
“The ministry should develop a sustainable higher and tertiary education funding model that will encourage students to take student loans by end of January 2021. The current CBZ Student Loan Scheme inhibits needy students to access the loans.”
Maphosa added: “All higher and tertiary education institutions must establish disability resource centres by April 2021. There is also need to expeditiously renovate the existing buildings as well as develop plans for buildings that accommodate people with disabilities.
“The ministry should work in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to prioritise higher and tertiary education institutions for land allocation as soon the land audit process is completed. This will allow them to obtain farms and subsequently produce their own food.”
She said the ministry should come up with a sexual and reproductive health rights policy in higher and tertiary education institutions by end of February 2020.
“Higher and tertiary education institutions should place importance on improving awareness of students. This also includes judicious collection and collation of statistics related to sexual transmitted illnesses and infections,” the proportional representative legislator said.
“There is need for a deliberate policy of internationalisation of Zimbabwe’s education sector. This includes recruiting and retaining international students and staff. This can be augmented by twinning with related institutions; this will facilitate exchange programmes and fellowships.”
She said this was a process which needed assessment after five years, adding that State-owned universities could draw invaluable lessons from the Africa University model.
“The ministry should work together with Treasury and come up with a framework for achieving regional parity in the incentive system in colleges and universities by June 2021. This is against the background of skills flight owing to poor salaries in higher and tertiary education institutions of Zimbabwe,” Maphosa said.
Universities and colleges, she said, should embrace renewable energy sources to eventually reduce the fuel and energy bill leaving more disposable income for other developmental activities.