The Sunday News
Auxilia Katongomara in Malaysia
THE country’s universities can only adapt to the global paradigm shift from being academic institutions to industry incubators by responding to the national interests, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister has said.
Professor Jonathan Moyo said local universities must shift to research, innovation and enterprise to contribute to the economic development of the country. Drawing from examples from universities in South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia which have redefined their role, Prof Moyo said universities must address fundamental issues of national interests through the research, innovation and enterprise model.
“The universities are responding to national interest and the national interest being about the strategic challenges of the nation. From what we heard in Singapore, the country has nothing, needs everything and the universities are using this model to get what they need to respond to the national interest and I suppose this is as given by the Government and I think universities themselves are in a position to identify what is national interest,” said Prof Moyo.
Prof Moyo challenged universities to be innovative and redefine their roles in society to be able to stay relevant.
“And for us I think if we are going to have a workshop, we need to start even here to be specific to say what are the national interest. For example we have the Zim Asset which can help us define issues of national interest. Food security is a national interest and the application of that three-way model addresses it, to say what do we want,” he said.
He said universities should also address the business interests in order to generate revenue.
“The second interest is business interest and the question there is where are the business opportunities to make money. It’s no longer responding to national interests, it’s to make money and promote economic growth. The universities we have toured leave the local market and engage other markets abroad,” said Prof Moyo.
He said universities must also invest in research which is essential for innovation and revival of the country’s industry.
Vice chancellors said there was need to strengthen Research Centres, come up with great innovations to resuscitate the dying industry through industrial revolutions and science and technology led by their institutions.
Prof Moyo said the past years had seen more talk rather than action from most universities in terms of research and innovations.
The Zimbabwean delegation led by Minister Moyo is touring successful universities in Asia and South America. So far, the delegation has toured Chungnam University in South Korea, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Universiti Teknologi Petronasiin Malaysia, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) National Nanofab Center where officials imparted knowledge on the use of science and technology business incubation, patent creation and film advancement.
The tour is part of the Ministry’s Stem263 thrust to support Government’s initiative to industrialise and mordenise in all sectors of the economy.
He said it was also key for the institutions to seek partnership to enhance their science and technology develop in line with the Government’s thrust to industrialise and mordenise.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has already taken the lead in the industrialisation and mordenisation thrust by introducing the STEM initiative in High schools to encourage the uptake of science and technology uptake in tertiary institutions.