INSTITUTIONS of higher and tertiary education must seriously examine their curricula to ensure that they are producing graduates that will fill the critical skills gap that the nation faces, a Cabinet Minister has said.
The sentiments echoed the findings of a joint report by the World Bank and Government that was released earlier this year.
The report highlighted the critical skills gap that Zimbabwe faces, especially in digital skills, which could hamper economic recovery and stall digital transformation.
Speaking on behalf of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister, Professor Amon Murirwa at Africa University’s 29th graduation ceremony last week on Saturday, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Professor Fanuel Tagwira urged tertiary institutions to align their curricula with the national development goals and the demands of the digital economy.
He also commended Africa University for its efforts in producing graduates who are innovative, entrepreneurial and ready to contribute to the country’s progress.
Minister Murwira also applauded Africa University for complimenting the Ministry’s Heritage Based Education 5.0 by prioritising the development of its students’ knowledge and skills.
“I am glad that Africa University was one of the first institutions to set up an innovation hub and we are truly grateful to see that they continue to uphold the idea and ideals of innovation for the purpose of transformation and creating employment across the African continent.
“For the nation and continent to develop rapidly, it is key to come up with an education system that supports exploitation of its natural endowments and value chains.
“Africa faces many pressing challenges, from climate change, new diseases, food security and many more. Economically, the continent needs to run faster in order to catch up with the rest of the world.
“The continent therefore looks up to its educated and education institutions to give leadership in finding solutions that are so desperately needed.
“This is why Government carried out a national critical skills audit in 2019 and identified our nation’s key skills gaps,’ he said.
Minister Murwira said the country’s economic blueprint, National Development Strategy (NDS1), places a great emphasis on creating and supporting educational disciplines that will fill the skills gap and help the nation in achieving its development goals.
“President Mnangagwa has said our education must be relevant to national development and assist in the industrialisation and modernisation of our nation to achieve an upper-middle income economy by 2030,” he said.
To align with the President’s vision, he said the Higher and Tertiary Education Ministry has spearheaded the transformation of the country’s education system to Heritage-Based Education 5.0.
“The 5.0 stands for teaching, research, community engagement, innovation and industrialisation or entrepreneurship.
“Education 5.0 prioritises development of knowledge and skills to enable the country to exploit its resources and to engage and improve its competitiveness,” he said.
Minister Murwira said each university must excel in all the five areas for the system to outshine the previous education system.
He challenged graduates to start a knowledge revolution that will help transform the African continent while leaving it a better place for future generations.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Bamenda Bambili in Cameroon, Professor Theresa Nkuo–Akenji who was the guest of honour challenged the graduates to create opportunities that can be accessed by everyone.
Africa University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Mageto said the Class of 2023 set a record of having the highest number of graduates.
He said the university is committed to making education accessible to everyone as transcribed in the mission of transforming Africa.
“Our gratitude goes to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development for its innovative leadership and continued support of the institution.
“Since the introduction of Education 5.0, we have spearheaded many transformations within our institutions and we are very grateful because of that.
“As a Pan-African institution, we are convinced that we have played our part in grooming you as our students so that you will be able to provide shelter and protection in your own special way.
“I hope you go into the world and make our continent proud. Go forward with faith that you will achieve great things and make your continent proud,” said Professor Mageto.
A total of 954 students from 19 African countries were capped, with 61.8 percent of them being female.
The graduating students were from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.