Students accommodation: Government engages private sector

Source: Students accommodation: Government engages private sector – Sunday News December 9, 2018

Professor Amon Murwira

Professor Amon Murwira

Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government has pledged to continue engaging in Public Private Partnership arrangements as it seeks to ensure the provision of adequate world class accommodation in higher and tertiary education institutions where 165 000 students are in need of accommodation.

In an interview, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said efforts were being made to ensure that accommodation was provided for in the country’s universities.

“This year approximately 180 000 students enrolled at our tertiary institutions. About 15 000 students have secured accommodation, hence Government’s aim is to make sure that we have accommodation for the 165 000 students that failed to secure accommodation at institutions of higher learning in the country. We believe that the private sector can participate in this exercise. While they get business also our students are getting the best accommodation,” said Prof Murwira.

He added that the ministry had engaged with some of the private sector companies for the development of infrastructure.

“In the universities and colleges we have said for student accommodation and other infrastructure we are going to attract the private sector and so far we have signed over 40 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) but we are not saying all of them will deliver. Definitely some will deliver greater than zero because it’s a very attractive model. We signed agreements with about seven companies that have to be translated into action and just to mention a few we are working with CBZ, BancABC which is going to build the Nust Medical School and a shopping centre among others,” he said.

Prof Murwira also highlighted that Government was working towards improving the quality and standards of higher and tertiary education and turn the sector into a foreign currency generator by attracting foreign students.

“I was privileged to attend the Cassava Smartech launch of an education insurance cover product called ‘Enda Education Cover’ which offers a school fees benefit in the event of the death of the parent or legal guardian of the student and these are the kind of things that we are looking for that can boost our students.”

In line with the Education Sector Strategy Plan (2016-2020) the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development was allocated $380,8 million in the National Budget and the bulk of the funding will be directed towards supporting disadvantaged students who are unable to access funding under the student loan facility (Edu-Loan) as well as equipping laboratories at teachers’ colleges and infrastructural development at the State universities.

The priority areas include provision for the construction of student accommodation and faculty blocks at Marondera, Manicaland and Gwanda State universities and embracing joint venture initiatives for provision of decent accommodation at other institutions of higher learning.