Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
President Mnangagwa yesterday capped 2 243 graduates at the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) and was also conferred with an honorary doctorate degree in Engineering Services and Technology.
The degree was in recognition of his efforts to promote science and technology as key enablers of the country’s development.
In his acceptance speech President Mnangagwa said the science and technology fields had the potential to create jobs and improve the people’s livelihoods.
“As I receive this prestigious award, allow me to acknowledge that engineering, sciences and technology are key cog in the developmental trajectory, modernisation and industrialisation of our great country.
“The transformation of these fields and associated milestones will undoubtedly have a profound effect on the achievement of sustainable economic development. Altering the types of jobs, the way people live, connect, communicate and transact,” President Mnangagwa said.
He urged institutions of higher learning to enhance capacities and competencies in engineering, science, technology and innovation in line with the country’s development thrust.
“The CUT is one of those institutions in our country with the mandate to advance the development, design and utilisation of technologies.
“I recognise the strides that the institution continues to make in this regard. I am aware that some alumni of this university have gone on to develop ICT and engineering solutions which are now being used by various public entities,” he said.
The President said the Government would continue to support the education model that emphasises innovation.
“My Government continues to support the new aggressive, Education 5.0 model, which seeks to expand the core business of universities to include innovation and industrialisation,” President Mnangagwa said.
“To date I have commissioned innovation hubs at the Midlands State University and the University of Zimbabwe. I am also informed that the CUT innovation hub is also ready for commissioning. Hubs must not be an end in itself.
“It is our expectation that remarkable and paradigm shifting breakthroughs will be developed at these Hubs. The development of prototypes, registration of patents and commercialisation of finished, useable and transformative products must be the ultimate objective.”
He added that research and innovations must be a catalyst for economic growth. He bemoaned the country’s continued dependence on imports for its equipment and medical needs.
“Institutions of higher learning must also harness contemporary engineering practices to accelerate the creation of rural industry systems and the modernisation of infrastructure in both urban and rural areas.
“Similarly the negative impact of climate change and the opportunities in the energy sector must inspire the relevant schools of engineering, towards innovative research and product development in fuels and renewable energy,” President Mnangagwa said.
The President later capped 2 243 students who graduated at a ceremony held at the institution.
The ceremony was the 15th since the establishment of the institution.
In his address, CUT Vice Chancellor Professor David Simbi said the institution was playing its part in helping the country achieve its development goals.
“CUT is continuing in its search for relevance to the nation in the current academic discourse as it seeks to better define a doctrine that so elegantly articulates our subscription to the nation’s vision for the establishment of innovation and industrialisation in the education system and a culture and heritage education architecture that should direct us towards the exploitation of our country’s natural resources,” Professor Simbi said.
He added that they were now focused on producing graduates that contributed to job creation.
The student enrolment has been growing steadily and now stands at 10 800 of which 9 500 are under graduates and 1 300 post graduates.
Prof Simbi however, bemoaned the low enrolment in science and technology programmes.
“The reason for the low Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) enrolment is associated with insufficient number of high school leavers who successfully complete their advanced level in sciences,” he said.
“This has a negative impact in the enrolment for innovation, technology and engineering programmes that rely on science and technology subject sects required to progress the industrialisation and modernisation agenda.”
In a related development the most read daily newspaper in Zimbabwe, The Herald sponsored prizes for top two Creative Art of Industrial Design Degree graduates Lorraine Banda and Miguel Kasinahama. Herald Acting Editor, Tichaona Zindoga, said supporting institutions of higher learning was critical in empowering the next generation of industry.
“We have had a number of bright prospects from Zimbabwe’s universities and colleges and from Chinhoyi University, in particular. We have absorbed some, while others have gone to other places. We therefore take our role in the value chain seriously. With this token of support for top talent from CUT, we reaffirm our commitment to enhancing talent and chanelling it into the productive sector of which we are part,” said Zindoga.