Varsities urged to embrace tech

Mr Mandizvidza

Mr Mandizvidza

From Auxilia Katongomara recently in Brazil
ZIMBABWE’s universities must embrace emerging technologies in order to transform into relevant, reliable and productive institutions in a digital economy, an official has said.

Mr Fredrick Mandizvidza, the chief executive of the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund which was established to help in the development of highly skilled manpower said emerging technologies must not be used as social interaction tools only, but must be introduced in university curriculum to enhance research and innovation.

Mr Mandizvidza, who was part of the delegation led by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Jonathan Moyo that embarked on a three week tour of universities in Asia and South America said embracing emerging technologies was no longer an option but a must for Zimbabwe.

He said from the fact finding mission, it was clear that other countries had already leveraged on emerging technologies to pursue Industrialisation.

Mr Mandizvidza said experiences from Asian Tigers offered an understanding on how Africa misses development opportunities with its university education.

“There is no economic activity that takes place outside the purview of technology let alone that of emerging technologies. As we toured other countries it became apparent that emerging technologies are indeed, the game changer in terms of today and tomorrow’s economic dynamics.

No transformation of university education will occur in a meaningful way without Vice Chancellors gaining a rare glimpse into the current and future trends in technologies ranging from social media platforms to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the Big Data which drive Industry 4.0 and the digital economy,” said Mandizvidza.

He said the quest for industrialisation and modernisation is taking place at a time when global dynamics in higher education are shifting towards research, development, innovation and commercialisation.

“Anything that stands in the way of embracing emerging technologies by universities does not only deny our nation the opportunity to write its own script, create its own future and to transform universities into relevant, reliable and productive institutions in a digital economy. The failure to embrace emerging technologies by universities will only serve to make university graduates technology-redundant citizens robbed of their potential to make an impact on society through solving current and future problems on the basis of STEM education,” he said.

Mr Mandizvidza said STEM education in general and emerging technologies in particular have contributed to economic development in countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Cuba and Brazil.

He said students in these countries no longer view technologies such as social media platforms as mere tools for communication and socialisation, but effective tools in driving next generation business models.

“In contrast, while many university students in our settings find it exciting to embrace social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many others, as important Mordern-day information and communication tools, a significant number remains largely technophobic when called to employ these tools for purposes of research, learning and invention of new products and services,” said Mr Mandizvidza.

He said universities should seriously consider including in their curriculum courses on emerging technologies as part of STEM programmes.

“None of our universities offer courses on Internet of Things (IoT) let alone Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Curriculum in countries such as Singapore, South Korea and India now have advanced programmes in Big Data and Big Data Analytics as foundational programmes for the digital economy. Obviously this allows emerging industries to create capabilities for the exploitation of disruptive technologies, simulation and additive manufacturing,” he said.

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