From George Maponga in Masvingo
President Mnangagwa yesterday challenged universities to stop taking pride in high enrolment figures and glamorous infrastructure and focus on providing answers to the country’s aspirations.
He said this in his acceptance speech after being installed Great Zimbabwe University Chancellor at the institution’s 12th graduation ceremony.
The President was installed the institution’s Vice Chancellor by Professor Rungano Zvobgo before he capped 3 916 graduates.
The graduate were drawn from faculties namely Gary Magadzire School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Simon Muzenda School of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Robert Mugabe School of Education, Julius Nyerere School of Social Sciences and Munhumutapa School of Commerce.
President Mnangagwa said under the Second Republic, institutions of higher learning should play a key role in national development.
“In the Second Republic institutions of higher learning must no longer merely take pride in student enrolment figures or the glamour of infrastructure.
The quality and impact of scholarship should be a source of answers to our national vision and aspirations,’’ he said.
President Mnangagwa said institutions of higher learning must provide an essential body of knowledge towards balancing exploitation of the country’s natural resources, environmental sustainability and economic development.
“The implementation of devolution and the development of provincial economies should compel institutions of higher learning and graduands alike to leverage on the various trade, investment and employment opportunities that will result there from.”
President Mnangagwa urged the graduands to strive to become creators of wealth and employment and make a positive impact in the economy.
He challenged the institution to leverage on its niche for promoting the teaching of arts, culture and heritage studies as these had immense potential to contribute to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“My Government stands ready to facilitate an enabling environment to grow this sector.
“Meanwhile, I urge the players in the industry to be imaginative, original and resourceful in their inventions and development of new products.”
“We, however, bemoan the prevalence of piracy in the industry. Stakeholders should continue to review and implement the statutes which protect intellectual, property, patents and copyrights.”
President Mnangagwa urged the GZU to increase its relevance and visibility in line with the Zimbabwe’s modernisation and industrialisation agenda towards attainment of Vision 2030.
“I urge the university to leverage on my Government’s policies in agriculture,mining,tourism, ICTs, energy and infrastructure development.
“Let us develop strategic partnerships and initiate Joint Ventures and Public-Private partnerships to improve and grow our institution.
“The plan by the university to begin the construction of the main campus will receive my Government’s full support.”
In his address, Prof Zvobgo said GZU continued to grow in leaps and bounds with its student population rising from 4 000 in 2012 to the current 15 000.
The university is also in the process of setting up a School of Medicine and construction work has started.
As part of efforts to improve sugar cane yields in the Lowveld, Prof Zvobgo said the GZU was contributing to sugar cane farming and research with 122 farmers having been certified to date.
“A key project on our books is the setting up of an innovation hub which should lead to an industrial park.
“We have an investor on board and together we are raring to go.
“We expect this hub to be up and running in the next few months.
“Our students and community are slowly brewing ideas for incubation, development and commercialisation through this hub,” he said.
Prof Zvobgo said the GZU was on course to be the first institution of higher learning to own a radio station with broadcasting equipment already in place and awaits its licencing.
Out of those who graduated this year, 60 percent were females in the undergraduate category.
Of the 3916 graduands capped yesterday 3491 were undergraduate while 425 were post-graduate students.
The ceremony was attended by members of the academia and senior Government officials among them Higher and Tertiary Education,Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, Minister of State Security Cde Owen Ncube, Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Ezra Chadzamira.