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By Elita Chikwati
India and Netherlands are looking at expanding cooperation with Zimbabwe in agriculture, health and offering scholarships in many academic areas. This came out last week when Netherlands Ambassador to Zimbabwe Barbara van Hellemond and Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Rungsung Masakui separately paid courtesy calls on Minister of State for Government Scholarships in the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Christopher Mushohwe.
They also discussed areas of interest in promoting specialisation of skills in the civil service.
Speaking after the meetings, Dr Mushohwe said Netherlands had been offering scholarships for many years to Zimbabwe.
“Netherlands is one of the best countries in agriculture expertise,” he said. “We will be sending specialists from the agriculture sector to acquire more knowledge. Every year we benefit, especially experts in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement who have gone there on short courses.”
Dr Mushohwe said Netherlands had also assisted Zimbabwe with short term and staff development programmes.
“We have had quite a number of beneficiaries for master degree programmes and PhD in various disciplines, including agriculture,” he said. “There are also a number of private students and we discussed on how they could coordinate the scholarships. Netherlands used to send scholarships to the specific ministries, but now it will all be done under one ministry with the relevant ministries identifying participants. We discussed how we can cooperate on academic scholarships.
“I also made a request that Netherlands also look at feasibility of including undergraduates on scholarships. We want our people to benefit right from first the level of degree programmes.”
Dr Mushohwe said India had shown an interest in training experts and collaborating with local universities.
“India will offer bilateral courses to assist with specialisation of civil servants to enhance performance in the sector,” he said.
“We discussed human capital development and bilateral scholarships which are short term for staff development course and some scholarships from areas of specialisation and enhancement of the civil servants.”
Dr Mushohwe said soon, some students would be leaving for studies in India.
India will cater for the bulk of the costs, while Zimbabwe will provide supplementary support.
Dr Mushohwe said there was also a programme that dealt with local institutions and universities signing Memorandum of Understanding with Indian universities.
“We are also looking at sending local doctors to specialise in areas they are not able to provide necessary services like heart transplant, brain and spinal surgeries, among other complicated areas which India has sufficient technology,” he said.
“This will also be done in agriculture and the small to medium enterprises.
Dr Mushowe said the Indian government will also bring experts to train locals.
Speaking after meeting Dr Mushohwe, Ambassador Hellemond said Netherlands had been offering scholarships to Zimbabwe since 1980.
“I appreciate the meeting today (Thursday last week) on how we can improve coordination and increase the spread of the recipients across Zimbabwe and all levels of society,” she said.
Similarly, Ambassador Masakui said his country had been supporting Zimbabwean students through scholarships and was interested in bringing experts to train locals.
“The most exciting part is the deployment of Indian experts in Zimbabwe,” he said. “This has never happened. We have cooperation, but we are entering into new areas to explore and enhance cooperation between our countries.”