Beaven Dhliwayo Features Writer
It is well known that Science, Technology and Engineering play an important role in the development of a nation and forms the backbone of industry in developing economies.
Given the increasing importance of the electronics, telecommunications and information communication technology (ICT) industry, the country therefore needs to strengthen its technological base in these areas in order to meet demands of the 21st century.
The Government of Zimbabwe is also critical about the issue.
Through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, headed by Professor Amos Murirwa the country is making significant strides into adopting Education 5.0 model which seeks to replace the less effective Education 3.0 model.
The 3.0 Model, made up of three core areas — teaching, research and outreach, was inherited from a colonial system which was structured to produce a pool of labourers to service the settler-economy while, in contrast, the new Education 5.0 Model, which ensures production of goods and services, has added two more areas of focus, Innovation and Industrialisation to Teaching, Research and Outreach.
Peter Michael Senge, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founder of the Society for Organisational Learning once wrote that, “Our system of education is trapped in an unspoken irony: The institution with the greatest potential impact on the future is arguably the one most shaped by taken for granted ideas from the past.”
This means that teaching as a profession and education in general as a system must simply adapt to the new circumstances and changes in role.
“A role which requires a transition from curriculum deliverer to one of learning coach. The new function is to fuel the natural passion and genius of the student, rather than be the protectors of knowledge, forcing students down a pre-constructed road built for the masses.
“Students have to be encouraged to question the knowledge and methods taught by teachers and to find new innovative insights as an individual as well as a collective,” wrote Mattia Rufenacht.
Speaking at a handover of ICT equipment donated to the University of Zimbabwe by Huawei Zimbabwe, Prof Murwira said, “We are in the era of Education 5.0 which takes the Universities to the centre stage of the modernisation and industrialisation agenda as it moves from idea to product.
“Education 3.0 had its constraints as it does not move from idea to product,” says Prof Murwira.
Our educationist, in this technological advanced environment needs to be smarter and ensure that their training programmes respond to the need of creating innovators in the country.
President Mnangagwa outlined a vision of an upper middle-income economy for Zimbabwe by 2030, meaning all the conditions that lead to industrialisation and modernisation have to be fulfilled.
It is no doubt that the achievement of the vision lies in the country’s education system and its design.
An education system that deviates from the traditional intellectual model that stated that the real intelligence consists of capacity of deductive reasoning and knowledge of the classics known as academic abilities.
A thinking that will desist from dividing people into academic and non-academic, smart people and non-smart people.
The mission should thrive toward creating an education system that leads to the production of goods and services.
There used to be a consequence that people think you’re not brilliant as you don’t have any degree of some sort or even worse? — many brilliant people think that they are not.
John Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, once said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”
Zimbabwe is endowed with brainy young individuals who can be innovative and create useful gadgets from pieces of a discarded machinery.
A good example is a 19-year-old man, Winfrey Mhere who dropped out of school at Grade 7, but designed a generator using empty baked bean tins, used oil and a battery.
The output voltage can power LED lights, a phone charger and other small gadgets.
Another example is that of two Form 4 pupils from Nyatsime College, in Chitungwiza, who built an award-winning automated power back-up unit so as to be able to study during blackouts.
The two science pupils — Panashe Muzite and Macfaden Munyoro — came second in the energy category at the just ended MEGIF Science Fair in Valencia, Spain.
Using pieces of a discarded computer, they constructed an automated power supply back-up unit which ensures telecommunications and electrical devices are up and running at all times even when electricity goes off.
This shows that the country should invest more in funding young innovators and improve on their skills and the creation of goods and services in the country.
This will automatically boost the industry and address the country’s problems through locally made goods and this subsequently can cushion the pressure on Government for the much needed foreign currency.
These guys have shown that innovation is right there at the country’s doorstep and only needs to be improved.
More funds should be channelled towards the Zimbabwe’s National ICT and the Zimbabwe ICT Innovation Drive policies.
The policies launched last year are meant to boost Zimbabwe’s economic and technological development.
Zimbabwe should start acting and stop depending on imports as it has young innovators who are capable of impacting a difference in the country.
Frank Tibolt wrote that, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”
And this is exactly what Zimbabwe ought to do, investing in young innovators and motivate them to invent more machinery that can address the country’s problems.
Indeed, the world is always changing in ways that are difficult to both predict and fathom. It is ever-changing, which means that Zimbabweans have to change alongside it.