Sifelani Tsiko and Chipo Sabeta—
CABINET has approved plans to build a $1 billion high-tech university in Mashonaland Central Province in honour of President Mugabe’s visionary leadership and indelible mark in the development of the country’s education system.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo told journalists yesterday that the new Robert Gabriel Mugabe University, which will be situated in Mazowe District, about 36km west of Harare, will aim to educate and inspire a new generation of technologically-minded leaders and innovators.
“The ministry is privileged and excited about Cabinet’s decision to establish the Robert Mugabe University,” he said.
“There can be no better recognition of President Mugabe’s commitment to education and his exemplary leadership. As such, we are looking forward to working with the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Foundation and the University of Zimbabwe to establish the university.”
The top-notch high-tech university will enrol graduates who will specialise in a wide range of scientific and high technology engineering, design and entrepreneurship multi-disciplinary research.
The institution will be run by the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Foundation and aims to produce “super specialists and super experts,” who will champion Zimbabwe’s industrialisation and modernisation.
President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe are the founding trustees and will be the responsible authorities of the university.
“The Robert Gabriel Mugabe University will be a STEM institution designed to facilitate the discovery of scientific, technological and engineering solutions to improve the quality of life of our country and humanity,” Prof Moyo said.
“It is a very expensive university but it is also very necessary. It is not cheap but one initiative that we feel requires support in recognition of President Mugabe’s academic and educational legacy. The real inspiration and mover has been the First Lady Amai Mugabe.
“It is a national proposition. The feeling is everywhere and it is an idea that has been there and should have been done.” The university, which will strive to promote the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, will be a first for Zimbabwe.
It will be incubated by the University of Zimbabwe through a process to be coordinated and overseen by UZ Vice Chancellor, Prof Levi Nyagura.
About $800 million will be spent on the university’s construction and $200 million put toward an endowment fund for research and innovation.
One important feature of the proposed university will be The Robert Gabriel Mugabe Institute which will focus on research, historical collections, library and studies on the revolutionary leadership, thinking and attributes of President Mugabe who rose from humble beginnings into an iconic global leader, nationalist, Pan Africanist, revolutionary, educationist, strategist and champion of the rights of the downtrodden the world over.
The university will comprise of eight clusters namely – computer engineering, nano-science and nanotechnology, actuarial and mathematical sciences, architectural and structural engineering, telecommunications and electronic engineering, biomedical engineering, international relations and geospatial intelligence and biotechnology engineering.
Majors may be adjusted or replaced, depending on the needs of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University and the development of the highly specialised areas.
Working groups will be set up to drive the setting up of the university. Upon completion, the university is expected to enrol at least 15 000 students. It is hoped that the university will have a charter and be accredited by June 2018.
“It is not going to be an overnight job,” Prof Moyo said. “Believe me, it is going to be an expensive project. We have involved working groups who will come up with a proper plan. However, we believe that in the next six months, there is going to be ground work.
“We hope to come up with estimated costs, estimated feasibility for the fiscus to prove funding for construction cost with guidance from the University of Zimbabwe.”
When President Mugabe, widely acclaimed for earning seven degrees and 11 honorary degrees, took office in 1980, he prioritised education.
Under his leadership, he managed to lift Zimbabwe’s adult literacy rate to the highest in Africa.
He has for the past three-and-half decades managed to put education at the top of the Government’s agenda with a significant portion of the national budget going towards the funding of education.
Zimbabwe has 13 state universities and seven private ones.
It is expected to have 22 universities once the proposed Robert Gabriel Mugabe University and the Anglican University in Zimbabwe have charters and Acts of Parliament to support their establishment.