EVERY other week I engage Dr Hardson Kwandayi to help me distill wisdom on a pertinent educational topic. Dr HK is a public policy expert, who is hugely schooled in educational best practices which we can learn a lot from as students, teachers, school managers, administrators, inspectors and directors. He is well travelled in both Africa and overseas where he studied best practices and public policies that ultimately led to the developments of those countries.
I thank him for accepting to educate the public free of charge on radio and thank those whose feedback acknowledges his invaluable contribution on Head-To-Head with MM. Last time the two of us were head to head on radio, we were discussing “What is a good university? How do students and parents identify a good university from a fly-by-night university run by academic conmen? I will ask him if there are also con-women in this business or any other for that matter – to balance the equation.
I am sure those who were listening to the programme Head-to-Head with MM last week got his point straight. Not every university is a good university. We talk about education from primary education and end at high school. No one knows about higher education, it is a no-go area. In highly developed countries, higher education is a discipline of education, studied and recognised by degree and doctorate awards.
Dr HK also talked about “useless” degrees, impotent degrees, which are not worth the paper they are written on. These he said were timewasters for students who are ill advised on which career paths to follow and at what universities to enrol. Indeed, we have seen in the press several sad stories about students who are miserably suffering at these backyard universities dotted in the Diaspora. That is another story for another day.
Prophet-like, Dr HK’s assertions in our previous radio programme frighteningly concurred with a statement by Dr Godfrey Gandawa in The Sunday News Online which the learned doctor posted to me. Great minds think alike. Read on:
THE Government should revamp the country’s higher education curriculum as it has emerged that at least 12 degree programmes offered by the country’s universities might be redundant in Zimbabwe by 2040 due to technology disruption.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa said the degree programmes that risk going under include Media and Society Studies, Political Science, Paralegal, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Psychology, Accounting, Business Administration, Marketing, Economic History, Heritage, Pharmacy and History.
He said the degrees would go under due to technology disruption. Technology disruption is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.
“Reasons for the redundancy include: industrialisation, STEM education, modernisation, industrial internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics,” said Dr Gandawa.
Questioned on possible measures that can be put in place to address the challenges, Dr Gandawa said there was an urgent need to revamp the country’s higher education curriculum.
“There is a need to focus on advantages of technology innovation. Revamp the higher education curriculum to incorporate technological skills in all degree programmes, either arts or humanities. There is also a need to offer hybrid degrees that offer a diverse of careers rather than teaching programmes without specific diverse career paths,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said it was unfortunate that the country’s universities had more policy formulation degrees while there were few policy formulation jobs in the market. However, the Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Midlands State University, Dr Zvenyika Mugari, said such a development was unlikely as the academia were always changing their curriculum in line with technological advancements.
“Academia are the vanguard of innovation, we do not operate in isolation as we are fully aware of what is happening around us hence we are always reviewing our curriculum to ensure that our degree programmes remain relevant. As academics we are always reinventing ourselves and our duty is to advise both the Government and practitioners on any possible innovations, not the other way around. We play an advisory role and I see it highly unlikely for these programmes to become irrelevant because it would show that we are not doing our job of ensuring that they always remain relevant regardless of technological advancements,” said Dr Mugari.
Statistics reveal that approximately 30 000 students graduate annually from the country’s universities. The Government has blasted some of the tertiary institutions arguing that they were not carrying out research that encourages innovations and instead, focusing on producing graduates who are job seekers.
In January last year, the Government introduced free education at A-Level for pupils who enrolled for science subjects as part of encouraging the study of science subjects. The move was meant to promote the learning of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) subjects which can equip pupils with the foundation to study in areas that can develop the country’s industries.
Developed countries have tried to deal with technology disruption in various ways. In Australia the government introduced a range of initiatives including a National Innovation and Science Agenda (Nisa), branded as “The Ideas Boom” a cyber security strategy and an expansion of the scope and aims of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. In China, the government is transforming from an investment-intensive, export-led model of growth to one driven by consumption and innovation.
INDEED GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE.