The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology Development has urged the government t upgrade local universities to international standards so that students being awarded scholarship to study abroad can study at local institutions and save foreign currency.
The committee recommended that future awards of scholarships should target local universities and colleges unless capacity to train in the specific fields is not locally available.
“This will help the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in reducing pressure on foreign currency allocations,” committee chair Peter Mataruse said when he presented a summary of recommendations for the ministry for the 2018 budget.
“The Committee also suggests that upgrading of some local universities to international standards will help so that parents send their children at local universities. This will also reduce pressure on foreign currency resources”
The Committee also recommended efficient control and financial accountability systems to the Ministry’s statutory bodies such as colleges, universities, ZimDef and other specialised projects to limit leakage of resources.
HON. DR. MATARUSE: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me time to present a Report of the Portfolio Committee of Higher Education, Science and Technology Development. Allow me to go straight to the recommendations.
1. There should be timeous disbursement of funds allocation to all budget items. Budget items towards operations and capital expenses have traditionally been accorded less priority when it comes to disbursements.
2 The STEM programme should focus on training students from universities and tertiary education. This means that after paying fees for 5 136 high school students who are already in the stream, the programme should be restricted to skills training and development of students from universities and tertiary institutions. This has potential to harness benefits quickly for economic development. The Committee noted that a sub programme on cattle breeding which falls under STEM received no funding in 2018. However, the Committee recommends that ZIMDEF in collaboration with Chinhoyi University should spearhead the completion of this project.
The Committee also discovered that cattle breeding can be viewed as a private investment project that can attract private players rather than funding – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. Can Hon. Dr. Mataruse be heard in silence? Hon. Minister of Finance, I want you to be listening to the Reports by the Chairpersons.
HON. DR. MATARUSE: 4. The high performance computer programme remains key to modernisation and economic development. This budget item received no funding in 2018. The Committee recommended that the high performance computer be given US$6 million for space expansion so that the Chinese Government owns up to the US$5 million grant for equipment they promised. In addition, the high performance computer programme should collaborate with other service providers of related services to avoid duplication of efforts.
The Cadetship programme owes $35 million to training institutions. The Ministry requested for $10 million to clear the outstanding debt. The Committee recommends Treasury to clear the debt as it affects the running of the institutions. The Committee also noted that although scholarships are now under the responsibility of a newly created Ministry for scholarships, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development still needs to clear outstanding scholarship issues, including ensuring that all outstanding stipends and agreements are honoured.
In addition, the Committee recommended future awards of scholarships to target local universities and colleges unless capacity to train the specific fields is not locally available. This will help the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in reducing pressure on foreign currency allocations. The Committee also suggests that upgrading of some local universities to international standards will help so that parents send their children at local universities. This will also reduce pressure on foreign currency resources. The Committee also recommended efficient control and financial accountability systems to the Ministry’s statutory bodies such as colleges, universities, ZimDef and other specialised projects to limit leakage of resources. Thank you very much.