Walter Mswazie Masvingo Correspondent
Colleges and universities have been advised not to raise tuition fees as employers have not increased salaries while indications are that the US$20 million student loan facility being initiated by Government is almost operational.
In an interview after the launch of state-of-the-art Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) infrastructure donated by UNESCO and Republic of Korea at Masvingo Teachers’ College last Friday, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said increasing fees in colleges and universities should correspond with an increase in salaries by employers.
He said Government was still committed to addressing students’ plight on fees payment and had already injected US$10 million into banks towards student loans.
“As a ministry, we are conscious of the Government’s austerity measures and we would not randomly increase fees in colleges and universities. We do not want to be part of the problem of fuelling inflation through arbitrary fee hikes,” said Prof Murwira.
“Local banks have agreed on a scheme with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The scheme has seen the Ministry injecting US$10 million, as educational loans and it is almost operational. The money has been deposited with banks and it is expected to increase to US$20 million,” he said.
He said the loan facility was flexible and students would be given more time to make repayments.
“The payback time is flexible depending on the capacity of the students plus this will be a revolving fund. So it is when these loans are operational that we can talk of raising fees,” he said.
Turning to the ICT infrastructure, Prof Murwira said, the target was to have free Wi-Fi for students in all 13 State universities and colleges by August 30, this year.
“We have also received US$6 million for industrial parks and innovation hubs with the construction of the infrastructure at advanced stages, in most universities. We look forward to having free Internet services for students in State universities in the next two months.”
The event saw the commissioning of 40, state-of-the-art desktops and 16 spot-throw projectors which have already been installed and are being used for research, learning and teaching.
The ICT programme is part of the 5.0 education design which has a bias towards innovation and industrialisation, thorough technological advancement.
The 5.0 design consists of teaching, research, community outreach, innovation and industrialisation.
This is a shift from the colonial set up which only concentrated on the first three.