Vusumuzi Dube, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government should revamp the country’s higher education curriculum as it has emerged that at least 12 degree programmes offered by the country’s universities might be redudant in Zimbabwe by 2040 due to technology disruption.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa said the degree programmes that risk going under include Media and Society Studies, Political Science, Paralegal, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Psychology, Accounting, Business Administration, Marketing, Economic History, Heritage, Pharmacy and History.
He said the degrees would go under due to technology disruption. Technology disruption is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.
“Reasons for the redundancy include; industrialisation, STEM education, modernisation, industrial internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics,” said Dr Gandawa.
Questioned on possible measures that can be put in place to address the challenges, Dr Gandawa said there was an urgent need to revamp the country’s higher education curriculum.
“There is a need to focus on advantages of technology innovation. Revamp the higher education curriculum to incorporate technological skills in all degree programmes, either arts or humanities. There is also a need to offer hybrid degrees that offer a diverse of careers rather than teaching programmes without specific diverse career paths,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said it was unfortunate that the country’s universities had more policy formulation degrees while there were few policy formulation jobs in the market. However, the Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Midlands State University, Dr Zvenyika Mugari said such a development was unlikely as the academia were always changing their curriculum in line with technological advancements.
“Academia are the vanguard of innovation, we do not operate in isolation as we are fully aware of what is happening around us hence we are always reviewing our curriculum to ensure that our degree programmes remain relevant. As academics we are always reinventing ourselves and our duty is to advise both the Government and practitioners on any possible innovations, not the other way around. We play an advisory role and I see it highly unlikely for these programmes to become irrelevant because it would show that we are not doing our job of ensuring that they always remain relevant regardless of technological advancements,” said Dr Mugari.
Statistics reveal that approximately 30 000 students graduate annually from the country’s universities. The Government has blasted some of the tertiary institutions arguing that they were not carrying out research that encourages innovations and instead, focusing on producing graduates who are job seekers.
In January last year, the Government introduced free education at A-level for pupils who enrolled for science subjects as part of encouraging the study of science subjects. The move was meant to promote the learning of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) subjects which can equip pupils with the foundation to study in areas that can develop the country’s industries.
Developed countries have tried to deal with technology disruption in various ways. In Australia the Government introduced a range of initiatives including a National Innovation and Science Agenda (Nisa), branded as “The Ideas Boom,” a Cybersecurity Strategy and an expansion of the scope and aims of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. In China, the Government is transforming from an investment-intensive, export-led model of growth to one driven by consumption and innovation.