YEAR 2020 must make a difference.
As Africans and as Zimbabweans in particular, we need to look back and figure out when and where the rains began to beat us. Zimbabwe boasts the highest literacy rate in Africa, but what do we have to show for it?
We have plenty of academics, including esteemed professors and doctors.
Our universities churn out thousands of graduates every year but are they adding value to the country?
Are they transforming Zimbabwe into an economic powerhouse? Are they making strides to make Zimbabwe the breadbasket of Africa again?
Are they making Zimbabweans understand where they come from and where they are going?
What is wrong with our universities and other educational institutions?
Are lecturers helping in any way to decolonise minds of the masses?
Professor Kwame Gyekye asserts that Africa is confused in mind and unable to deal with the institutions it inherited from its colonial masters.
Can it then be argued our graduates are taught to dismiss everything African while embracing everything foreign?
It’s a pity we have many brilliant students who failed to prosper because they did not have five ‘O’-Levels including English!
Why the Queen’s language out of all the subjects?
In fact, to date, one cannot easily progress to university without English as a subject no matter how brilliant he or she is in other subjects.
And then we come to the degree syndrome.
The notion that everyone must have a degree in order to be recognised as an intellectual and even to be promoted at work must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
Here we can refer to one of Zimbabwe’s ‘saddest’ stories – Maxwell Sangulani Chikumbutso, the founder of Saith Technologies.
In 2015, Chikumbutso, then 35 years old, unveiled his inventions, among them a helicopter (Saith Hex-Copter), an electric-powered car (Saith EV), a microsonic-powered generator (Green Power Machine), a drone and a mobile communications backpack.
He was based at Bluffhill Industrial Park, Harare, when The Patriot visited him.
International and regional media houses including Reuters, SABC News and a Chinese television station were also present and Chikumbutso confirmed that Americans, Canadians and Russians were already interested in his works, yet Zimbabweans shunned him perhaps because he had limited formal schooling and had visions whereby, he ‘saw’ designs and sometimes blueprints before making sketches.
After attending Haig Park and Kuwadzana 5 Primary schools, Chikumbutso enrolled at Dzivarasekwa High School where he dropped out in Form Two.
Writing about Chikumbutso, Nyasha Chabururuka said: “One wonders if Chikumbutso will be here to stay in a land which seems less interested in the marvellous works and exploits of its people.”
As fate would have it, Chikumbutso was snatched by the US, and in 2018 Zambian Observer online quoted Chikumbutso as saying, “The US Government saw what Africa did not and California is now our home, the head office of Saith Holdings Inc.
“I always love Africa and I’m so proud of being born and raised in Africa.
“I will surely come back to Zimbabwe where everything started.”
Indeed it’s said there are many Chikumbutsos’ we have lost out there and as we relook at our education system there is need to encourage students to come up with innovations that can make Zimbabwe great again.
Theory alone will not take us anywhere, which is why the innovation hubs at universities initiated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa must be given a thumbs up!