University of Zimbabwe Chancellor President Mnangagwa yesterday capped UZ 4 959 graduates, commissioned a new technology-orientated complex at the university, laid the foundation stone for the UZ agro-industrial park and launched the new 5.0 academic programmes at UZ
The ceremonies started with the conferment of degrees, with only 203 of the 4 959 graduates attending physically, in keeping with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Those physically present had graduated in the first class or had earned doctorates. The rest attended virtually.
After capping the graduates, President Mnangagwa officially opened the Art, Design and Technology Complex at the main campus before proceeding to lay the foundation stone for the Agro-Industrial Park along the Harare-Bindura highway at the university’s farm. He then launched the 5.0 academic programmes.
In his address to launch the complex, the agro-industrial park and the curriculum changes, President Mnangagwa said the developments were a major milestone towards creating education fundamentals geared towards industrialisation and modernisation of the country.
“The multifaceted projects being implemented, registration of patents, as well as production of goods and services by the UZ and other State universities is gratifying and a testimony that we are on the right path,” said President Mnangagwa.
The onus to develop the country lay on Zimbabweans.
“Each country has its owners and Zimbabwe also has its owners. There is no country that can develop by relying on foreigners so the development of Zimbabwe is our responsibility as the owners of the country,” he said.
President Mnangagwa was impressed by products he saw in the agro-processing plant that included confectionery products made from traditional grains, edible oils and livestock feed, among others.
“The thrust we have adopted in the higher education sector is the correct approach for the modernisation and industrialisation of our country. Ten years from now, in 2030, we will be a different society and different country,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the decision to adopt the Education 5.0 curriculums was after a realisation that many students had brilliant ideas that were not transformed into tangible products.
This led him to think of establishing innovation hubs and industrial parks at universities to transform the ideas into products that would not only benefit the institutions, but the whole country.
“To this end, I am enthused that the university has developed an array of new 5.0 education degree programmes backed by new faculty nomenclature with the associated academic regulations and ordinances. By so doing, the UZ has answered an important national development question with regards to the nurturing of critical skills and competencies,” said President Mnangagwa.
The UZ has created new programmes in the fields of engineering, science and technology and life sciences while refocusing those in arts, humanities and social and behavioural sciences.
“Going forward, rest assured that as the Chancellor, I will ensure that resources will be availed for the establishment of an innovation ecosystem where the university communities can realise their full potential.
“It remains my Government’s expectation that the academia and students alike will match our support with equal levels of tenacity and zeal for the generation of new knowledge, advanced skills and competences as well as design systems that sustainably produce goods and services to meet our national needs.”
The President commended the UZ for registering over 70 patents and urged the university to utilise the National Venture Capital Fund for the establishment and growth of start-ups.
UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Mapfumo said the university was geared towards contributing to the country’s industrialisation.
“What you are witnessing is a deliberate effort by the UZ to build a research and innovation ecosystem that can stimulate and sustain industrialisation and ultimately open opportunities of business and enterprises development,” he said.
Prof Mapfumo said when complete, the UZ industrial park will have seven modules that include the agro-processing plant, the agricultural and mining equipment production plant, the pharmaceutical and drugs production plant, the electronic components manufacturing plant, the refrigeration plants and warehouse that allows for storage of horticulture products, the learning and execution centre that allows interface with industry and commerce and communities, and another one for stationery production.
Earlier during the graduation ceremony, Prof Mapfumo said UZ had was now drawing ground water from the industrial park for use at the main campus, approximately 10km away.
The university had begun construction of a laparoscopic surgery and minimal access laboratory with Karl Stortz Endeskope from Germany with the facility being the first of its kind in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, thanked the President for initiating changes in the education sector that focus on practical development.
He urged other universities to emulate the UZ’s lead in reconfiguring their curriculums.