WE support the reasoning behind the need to rejig our education system, especially at college and university levels, if we are to achieve the objective of becoming a middle-income economy by 2030, with the concomitant increase in the volume of production this entails.
Recently, there was a hue and cry when the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Amon Murwira, suggested the purging of what he termed ‘useless’ degrees at universities.
He might have been misunderstood.
However, what cannot be denied is that the bulk of our current university graduates find themselves clueless when no job is offered them.
This is because their educational grounding has prepared them to be job-seekers instead of being job-creators.
This is the basis of ‘Education 3.0’ which emphasises on teaching, research and community service as the three key pillars.
These are the three core areas in the education system we inherited from our erstwhile colonisers.
But the colonisers did it for a purpose.
This was designed to make blacks suit the administrative requirements to run Government machinery of the repressive colonial regimes.
Thus, we find the bulk of the educated blacks were office orderlies, clerks, nurses, policemen, teachers or lay preachers.
That is why our vernacular languages were despised, with English, the language of our colonisers, being given a status which made it imperative to master.
Not that there is anything bad with the above jobs, but ‘Education 3.0’s emphasis on mastering theoretical concepts through rote memory left the ‘finished’ product clueless when not presented with a job on a silver platter.
The creative genius within a graduate is thus left to lie dormant.
But for a country bent on a determined modernisation and industrilisation trajectory, this is unacceptable.
Thus, Professor Murwira’s advocacy of university graduates with a job-creating, as opposed to that of job-seeking, mindset is the way to go.
This then ties education to the practicalities of real life.
Professor Murwira’s ‘heritage-based doctrine’, which implies knowledge based on needs of local environment, should not be seen as re-invention of the wheel.
Our lead story in this edition, looks at the virtue of vocational training centres. These are centres which focus on skills that are on demand and prepares graduates through hands-on training.
Chaminuka Vocational Training Centre in Mt Darwin is a typical example of how such centres, whose graduates might not have been brilliant at secondary school level, can excel.
Graduates from such institutions are seldom seen loitering on the streets as they can easily walk into employment or can even create jobs for others if they get the opportunity to start their own ventures.
More should be expected from universities whose entrance qualifications are more stringent.
If university curricula can be remodelled accordingly, there is no reason state universities can’t champion Zimbabwe’s modernising and industrialising drive.
With the expected reconfiguration of our university degrees to be in tandem with the country’s heritage, we should be capable of going far.
Thus, the thrust of university degrees must be based on the recognition of the exploitable economic opportunities vis-a-vis the different regions.
Our vocational training centres, though in need of massive financial backing, are there for state universities to emulate.