The Sunday News
Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Government has completed the National Skills Audit as well as crafting of the National Qualifications Framework (NFQ) which will guide the overhauling of the curriculum framework for universities, teachers’ colleges and polytechnics, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira told Sunday News last week that draft documents of the two will be out tomorrow. He said the two draft documents now await Cabinet approval before being implemented. Zimbabwe last conducted a skills audit in 1984 with most of its recommendations now outdated and overtaken by developments, chief among them technology.
“The draft policies are now complete and they await Cabinet approval before they are released to the public. The National Skills Audit draft book will be out on Monday. It’s a very interesting report which will help us strategise in terms of manpower development,” he said.
Prof Murwira said the national skills audit also seeks to address shortcomings that have seen students studying for degrees that are no longer relevant to industry. This, he said, will see some diploma and degree programmes offered by higher and tertiary learning institutions either phased out or re-tailored to meet industry’s needs.
“I can simply say that among the main highlights are that for example, when we go to the medical fraternity we will look at how many doctors are needed, per thousand people. Then when we get the figures, we then use the world standard to measure where we are and assess the gap. Then again we go, say to humanities and quantify the social sciences required by a developed country and see how many we have then we assess if we have an oversupply or under supply,” said Prof Murwira.
He said the skills audit also allows the country to ensure that when people go to study out of the country they are going to seek special qualifications which the country needs.
“For example, why should we send someone to study History and we give them foreign currency when we have History here?
“We are saying where we have the most shortage, for example sciences that’s where we can send people on staff development to train others or start that industry when they come back,” he said.
Prof Murwira said the national skills audit was also key in the review of the curriculum as it outlines the skills that are no longer useful and those that will be useful tomorrow.
He said the National Qualifications Framework would see harmonisation of courses being offered at tertiary institutions, enabling students in a particular field where possible to transfer from one tertiary institution to another and continue with their studies without difficulty.
The framework, he said, will also enable qualifications attained at diploma and higher national diploma levels are considered when one enrols for an undergraduate degree.
Prof Murwira explained that the framework would also see students with prior qualifications being exempted from taking courses they would have passed in their previous studies.
Last year, the country’s student population from the country’s 15 universities stood at 99 284. Midlands State University had the highest enrolment with 16 714 students followed by the University of Zimbabwe that had 12 779.