The Sunday News
Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Government is working on setting up Science parks and innovation centres at State universities as part of efforts to accelerate the country’s industrialisation drive.
This comes at a time when the Government has said it will continue funding high school pupils under the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programme.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira told Sunday News last week that Science Parks would be set up in the next “100 to 200 days”.
Prof Murwira said the main function of the centres would be to translate knowledge generated in learning institutions into products and services that are relevant to the country’s needs.
He said the centres would initially be established at six chosen universities and resources permitting they would be spread to other institutions.
The six universities where the initial centres will be established are National University of Science and Technology (Nust), University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), Midlands State University (MSU) and the National Defence University (NDU).
“As we move towards developing our country, step by step we are looking at setting up Science parks and innovation centres at our universities.
“These centres will be used for knowledge translation for industrialisation.
“The centres will act as transition between university and industry. The innovation centres will co-ordinate translation of ideas to produce real actionable outcomes
“The centres will be where the university meets industry in trying to find solutions to problems confronting our communities,” he said.
Prof Murwirwa added, “We have budgeted for six universities namely Nust, Chinhoyi, MSU, UZ, HIT and the National Defence University. In the next 100 to 200 days we will set up these centres.
“Resources permitting we will set up the centres at other State Universities.”
The Higher and Tertiary Education Minister said the centres would be open to both students and members of the public with innovative ideas that needed to be refined and translated into real solutions.
“These centres will be open to everyone. This is where the university meets the community and industry to sit down and translate ideas into real life solutions.
“The main objective is to translate knowledge into products and services. The innovation centres will act as a bridge between industry and knowledge,” he said.
Prof Murwira said his ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would also continue with the STEM initiative, as part of the industrialisation drive.
The initiative has been driven by the need for science and technology skills in various facets of the economy, as highlighted in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) blueprint.
He said the Government would continue supporting high school pupils who are doing STEM subjects, but hinted on possible modifications to the programme.
“This new dispensation is about collaboration between Ministries and Government departments. As a team we are all supposed to work together.
“So we will collaborate with our sister ministry, which is a feeder ministry to encourage STEM as we push Zimbabwe forward in technological development and industrialisation.
“This is not a new concept, it was not a pioneer concept in Zimbabwe, but world over people are talking about STEM.
“We will implement it in a collaborative manner,” he said.
The minister added, “We work for people and once we start an initiative centred on the student, once we decide that this student is funded we can’t turn around and stop the programme just like that. We will do things to the end. It is about the people.
“There could be modifications here and there, like in any other programme. The programme could continue in a different format. Necessary changes will take place based on lessons learnt, as we seek to strengthen the initiative,” he said.
The STEM initiative was introduced at the start of 2016 and provides free education to all Advanced Level (senior high school) pupils registered for STEM subjects. [email protected]