Cabinet recently approved plans to grant polytechnics and vocational training centres administrative autonomy similar to that enjoyed by universities.
Institutions are currently under Government’s direct control through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.
The move carried in the proposed Manpower Development and Planning Act Amendment Bill, will see all polytechnics and public colleges in the country operating under a single autonomous council.
The council will be constituted in the same manner that university councils are structured, but will have oversight over all public colleges forming a grouping set to be known as the tertiary education services.
Each institution will be able to make independent decisions — with guidance from the council — on matters including staff welfare, course content, research areas and priorities, among others.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Prof Amon Murwira said this will enhance the role played by such institutions in economic development.
“The Bill will be gazetted soon for debate in Parliament. President Mnangagwa saw it fit to grant academic autonomy to polytechnics and vocational training colleges. The idea is to encourage them to make their own decisions and to be able to be creative in their pursuance of research work,” Prof Murwira said.
He said the move was in accordance with international best practice where training of technicians spoke to a national need, but the operations are not centrally enunciated by Government.
“We want our colleges to be in accordance with Education 5.0, which is a model meant to ensure institutions have a positive impact in societies they exist in. This can only happen when there is freedom to create and the amendment seeks to do that, as colleges at the moment are operating like Government departments” Prof Murwira said.
The move, if okayed by legislators and the President will see Zimbabwe joining regional peers like South Africa in having colleges that determine their own academic thrust.
It also will help institutions fund their own researches, as they will be returning part of the tuition fees paid to them for operational purposes.
Consequently, they will become self-sufficient and reduce pressure on Government resources.