Zim education policy in sync with its needs Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava

Wallace Ruzvidzo-Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE is lining up its education system to foster innovation, employment creation, and ensure the betterment of the general citizenry’s livelihoods, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava has said.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing Antalya Diplomacy Forum (ADF24) in Turkiye where he is representing President Mnangagwa, Minister Shava said it was important that education systems are in sync with countries’ developmental needs.

“In the past, people were educated in order to just work and facilitate the means of production that were existing at that time. But right now we have to educate young men and women in order to innovate, in order to create employment, in order to ensure that their education can be used for the betterment of the population. In other words, in our own situation, we have universities. 

“We had one university at independence, the University of then Rhodesia, and yes, we now have 21 universities in the country. 

“But the main feature in these universities is to orient the youngsters into education with production and orient them to be educated in order to be creative, to be innovative. And so as a result, we have now created in our situation what we call innovation hubs at the universities. 

“And in these innovation hubs, we allow the young boys and girls to dream, to dream about what they can create, what they can cause to happen, whatever innovations they can make, and when they’ve dreamt enough,” he said.

Ambassador Shava said innovations in the education sector were an important pillar for ramping up production levels across the country’s economic divide.

“We go further, a step further and we send them into Innovation parks when they get to the interview. At Innovation Parks they must now produce, and not just for the country. They must produce for industry and commerce. 

“They must produce items which are exportable so that we can embark on export of whatever products they produce for the betterment of the country. And I just want to give one very interesting example which happened during the COVID era.” 

“We had a problem in the COVID era of oxygen and we put together some young professors, lecturers at universities and said we have this problem which needs a solution so that we can attend to patients who are COVID infected and provide them with oxygen. So we could not produce, we could not source enough oxygen. 

“They spent a lot of time and they produced a scheme and build a factory which then produced oxygen and this oxygen, the beauty of it is that the factory that they built produces oxygen of higher quality than the oxygen we used to buy. This is 96 percent oxygen in terms of the capacity of the oxygen that is produced there,” he said.

Ambassador Shava said Zimbabwe was making efforts to meet not only national needs but regional and global needs.

“For the requirements of Zimbabwe, it’s only two days production. So for the 28 days of the month we can now produce oxygen for use by our neighbours if they want it and for use by others who may want to buy it from us. So it’s extremely important to measure our steps as we go to the middle income status in 2030,” he said.

Mozambique’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Mozambique, Verónica Macamo, concurred with her Zimbabwean counterpart saying youth empowerment was an important pillar of development.

“For the sake of the future of our country, we have to support our youth so that they can provide for one another, they can provide for their families, they’ll be self-sufficient. This can only happen for investment, technology, and building capacity. We need to have access to markets and have construction needs as well. 

“But also we have to support the farmers in their agricultural activities. And we have to develop our production capabilities too. So yes, the potential in Africa is huge, but we need improvement and we have to overcome terrorism. We have to stop wars because like I said, when there is war, everything goes upside down,” she said.

Minister Shava participated in the panel discussion together with Foreign Ministers of Cameroon, Gabon and of Namibia, as well as the Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

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