Educational planning for innovation – Part Five…capacity building in biotechnology vital

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Application, FlexAct, Palletank, SC Dynamics, Sartoclear Dynamics, STR 2000, Biostat STR

AT continental level, the African Union (AU)’s 2063 Agenda identifies biotechnology as key to solving some of the continent’s challenges and calls for the judicious application of technology for biodiversity conservation.
Capacity building in this area of biotechnology is also stressed in the AU 2063 agenda.
Notwithstanding Sustainable Development Goal 9: to Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.
This goal seeks to achieve development and improve livelihoods through industrialisation.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has been central to the co-ordination of NAM S&T Centre activities since 2012.
Under the second Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy of 2012, the Government of Zimbabwe is guided by six primary goals which focus on:
l exploitation of new and emerging technologies;
l strengthening capacity development;
l commercialisation of research outcomes;
l searching for scientific solutions to global environmental challenges;
l fostering international collaborations and
l fostering science advocacy and resources mobilisation.
The Zimbabwe STI policy of 2012 also highlights the need to ‘strengthen research that optimises manufacturing processes using biotechnology and other technologies.
The Government of Zimbabwe has initiated the ease of doing business to attract both local and foreign direct investment in order to meet economic targets as outlined in the new dispensation.
The ease of doing business strategy repositions the country’s industrial manufacturing sector and initiates a robust value addition and beneficiation model to improve exports receipts. It’s therefore anticipated that the adoption of technologies such as biotechnology in our industrial processes would revitalise our manufacturing industry and see an economic boost.
An even more important aspect of educational planning for innovation is to rethink synergising all the entire educational value chain; and this calls for centralisation of planning by singularising policy planning, implementation and evaluation. This can only be possible by establishing a single ministry or department of education to ease co-ordination.
As it is Zimbabwe is bedevilled by unco-ordinated centres of education shouting in different directions as established by the just launched Zimbabwe National Qualification Framework (ZNQF).
Zimbabwe’s past before the establishment of ZNQF was characterised by many obstacles flying in the face of progress in education.
To date, institutions where qualifications are awarded and qualification structures domiciled remain out of tune with one another.
There is no body politic which harmonises and regulates their work.
These are, among others, the:
l Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development;
l Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education;
l Ministry of Health and Child Care;
l Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources; and
l Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
Qualifications in Zimbabwe have, until recently through the ZNQF, not yet been harmonised and standardised.
The Zimbabwe National Qualifications Framework should integrate education into a unified structure by co-ordinating education, training institutions and qualification awarding bodies into a nationally recognisable qualification system. Until now, students could not transfer from one university to the other and neither did the system recognise prior learning before acceptance into universities.
In a nutshell, there was virtual disharmony in the higher education system.
What was worrisome was that, despite our unparalleled literacy rates on the continent, Zimbabwe was now lagging behind other SADC countries in terms of creating recognisable qualifications frameworks.
The Zimbabwe National Qualifications Framework will thus provide a mechanism that will allow for portability and comparability of qualifications in Zimbabwe and the SADC region to address, among others, the non-recognition, non-compatibility and non-comparability of skills, educational qualifications and experience in the country and across borders.
Other than contributing to the ease of movement of local learners from basic education to TVET and/or university education, the Zimbabwe National Qualifications Framework is also meant to support the SADC and COMESA negotiations of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for professional qualifications.
This will facilitate mobility of qualified labour as part of enhancing human capital for the industrialisation and modernisation of the country.
The rationale of the ZNQF is to provide a mechanism to harmonise national qualifications to enable vertical and horizontal mobility of learners and graduates.
The ZNQF will provide a mechanism that will allow for portability and comparability of qualifications in Zimbabwe and the SADC region; to address, among others, non-recognition of prior learning, non-compatibility and non-comparability of skills and educational qualifications in the country and across borders.
Other than contributing to the ease of movement of local learners from basic education to TVET and/or university education, the ZNQF is also meant to relate to the SADC and COMESA Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for professional qualifications.
These MRAs are meant to facilitate mobility of qualified labour as part of enhancing human capital for the industrialisation and modernisation of the country, thus providing for co-operation with transferees in the regions.
This Framework document provides an instrument for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies along an agreed continuum of 10 levels.
The policy details the comparability of different qualifications and how one can progress from one level to another within and across occupations or industrial sectors.
This will provide a way for structuring existing and new qualifications, defined by learning outcomes, that is, clear statements of what the learner must know or be able to do, whether learnt in a classroom, on the job or less formally.
In conclusion, it must be stressed that synchronisation of educational planning is the only way to ensure that universities and TVET institutions share a common goal of contributing to the nation’s industrialisation and modernisation, either by advancing knowledge and promoting scholarship, contributing to knowledge based society as it were, or by directly supporting industrial and economic growth through the application of existing knowledge.
How effectively these tasks are divided up between TVET and university education should be a parameter that defines the overall efficiency of the higher and tertiary education, science and technology development system.
This is why the issue of articulation of learners and labour mobility must engage the serious attention of Government’s policymakers.

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