Zimdef challenges varsities to come up with Stem-driven programmes

THE Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) has challenged universities to come up with new Stem-driven programmes starting next year to absorb the first lot of students, who benefited from having their fees paid to pursue science subjects.

BY SHARON SIBINDI

Speaking during a tour of Zimdef projects by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, the organisation’s chief executive officer, Fredrick Mandizvidza, said Stem was critical for the development of the country.

“It is our historical obligation to ensure that through Stem education, we create a future in which young generations will not only enjoy the fruits of their intellect, talent and wealth, but will also find meaning and hope out of life in their motherland Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mandizvidza said Zimdef would continue delivering on its mandate to benefit stakeholders and the country.

“Allow us enough space to creatively think, act freely and discharge our duties in the best interests of the nation in the same manner you have bestowed on us the huge responsibility to manage this public resource for skilled human capital development,” he said.

“Your fund is safe and in very capable hands. Our universities, polytechnics and all those, who care to be objective, as well as what you have personally seen so far, bear testimony to that.”

Mandizvidza said Zimdef had funded several projects, among them a DNA testing laboratory at the National University of Science and Technology, an artificial insemination project at Chinhoyi University of Technology and a high performance computing system at the University of Zimbabwe, which were all catalysts for Stem education.

He said the vision of an industrialised and modernised Zimbabwe had prompted the government to adopt the Stem Initiative, but not as a financial rescue package for the underprivileged.

“Rather, it is a merit-based initiative, catering for those who have talent in the foundational subjects for the Stem university programmes,” Mandizvidza said.

“It is not just the learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but it is the practical integration of these foundational courses to unleash scientific solutions to current and future problems faced by society.”

He said other countries had already leveraged on Stem to pursue the Fourth Industrial Revolution, known as Industrial Revolution 4.0, yet the country remained tucked at the tail-end of the First Industrial Revolution, where there was no wealth to talk about.

“Everyone and every institution must play their own part if Zimbabwe is going to move forward as a proud and renowned player in new product development critical in the game of global economics, trade and commerce, ” Mandizvidza said.

He implored the committee to vigorously lobby Parliament for more resources to be channelled towards institutions of higher learning to enable them to undertake upper-end research and development and innovation as they focused on human capital development critical for industrialisation and modernisation of Zimbabwe.

Zimdef said it had invested over $9 million in fees and administration expenses benefiting more than
10 200 students.

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