|Zim poised for greater heights|
|Wednesday, 27 June 2012 12:32|
Universities are to communities in which they are located what tower lights represent in their designated areas. Tower lights are extensions of daylight to intensify symbiotic relations for mutual benefits between people and their institutions in social and economic development for a secure future. As pinnacles of higher education and technological innovations, universities play a cutting-edge role to catalyse communities around them for positive responses to challenges that often impede social, economic and political advancement in society.
When the institutions of higher learning, science and technology acquit themselves to the expectations of communities around them, they become relevant and indispensable in the evolution of people’s lives. It is in that context that Zimbabweans across the nation ought to celebrate bold new initiatives by the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo to capacitate students in the university by teaching them, and untrained teachers, the beauty and utilitarian power of mathematics as a key to unlocking development through science and technology.This pen enters memory lane.
Nust and the Bulawayo Polytechnic enjoy prime time headlines on the lips of gossippers in social circles before bursting onto the political podium with rather recalcitrant, tribalism overtones. More places at Nust and at Bulawayo Poly are filled by students from outside of Matabeleland at the expense of local students, the complaint rends the air.
But why do local students not qualify for enrolment in greater numbers? You ask. The response is a stark gaze and folded lips.When the protesters, speaking mostly from Bulawayo, appear to have field days a few years ago, Professor Phineas Makhurane, then vice-chancellor of Nust was apparently so incensed he told the complainants to their face that Nust was built using money from tax payers around the country and, as such, students from anywhere in Zimbabwe had the right of enrolment at the university if they qualified.
Insiza Senator, Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu was more blunt. He said instead of complaining, parents in Matabeleland should encourage their off-spring to pursue higher education instead of concentrating on herding cattle and then going over the border to work as cheap labour.
By promoting the teaching of maths in schools in the three Matabeleland provinces, Nust has not only broadened the horizon for students aspiring to enter the university, its move posits a vibrant new future for Bulawayo which used to be Zimbabwe’s industrial hub before the illegal Western-imposed sanctions ruined the manufacturing sector in the city.
Science and technology combine as a master key to unlocking social and economic development in a country, and Nust’s next move of intensifying the teaching of science subjects in the region certainly ushers in new prospects not just for regional but for national development as well.
As a matter of fact, when the debate about shortfalls in the enrolment of local students vis-à-vis those from other provinces was live, workers in the Diaspora from Matabeleland talked about mobilising resources to send back home to capacitate schools in the teaching of maths and science subjects to increase the number of students qualifying for enrolment at Nust.
With the university now set to upgrade the teaching of science in Matabeleland schools response to that effort with money and other, material requirements will certainly demonstrate the public’s appreciation of the sterling part that those at Nust are playing to try to give Zimbabwe a brave new future in development. It is, incidentally, a role that other universities doted around the country and specialising in various disciplines should find impossible not to follow by giving to their own communities relevant and requisite skills, be it in agriculture, tourism, forestry, fisheries etcetera.
But for some this will probably be easier said than done, especially if the will to break new ground is lacking. What is implied here for success to be achieved is the presence of strategic proactive leadership.
An institution — any institution for that matter where the leadership seats lordly with folded arms, like a squint-eyed potentate becomes dysfunctional and irrelevant to its community and nation as a whole.