“Zimbabwean people are learned” is a statement (and other variants of it) we’ve all heard thrown about hundreds of times locally. Whilst this may be true, the results are not immediately apparent if you take a look at the life being led by most Zimabweans.
This has led the government to switch gears and focus less on academic qualification and more on technical programmes. The bias will be on innovation and industrialisation as these are key components in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP).
A report on human capital development, skills audit and employment creation was presented before the cabinet recently by Prof. Amon Murwira who also happens to be the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister. Monica Mutsvangwa, the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister had this to say about the report:
The programmes are derived from the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and targeted towards the achievement of the goals of Vision 2030 as highlighted below; to develop standardised qualifications through the establishment of minimum bodies of knowledge and skills, thus enhancing transparency to institutions, learners and employers; to reconfigure Higher and Tertiary Education in Zimbabwe to focus on Innovation and Industrialisation (HTE 5.0) in addition to teaching, research and community service (HTE 3.0).
One of the many complaints regarding local education has been that of people learning and acquiring skills that are already obsolete which makes the graduates unappealing hires as they still require training to get up to date with latest trends in their fields. This is a big reason (not the only reason) why Zimbabwe has a skills shortage or gap.
Whilst this focus might indeed change things, it’s also fair to take note of the fact that there has been a focus on STEM in higher education for a long time now and the effects don’t seem to have produced the desired effect just as yet.
As with many things, the idea might sound noble but the execution will be what determines the impact this makes. A curriculum change that reflects on current and relevant skills also means an overhaul (or extensive training) of the teaching staff that delivers these skills to the students, so it’s certainly a case of easier said than done.