BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE
GOVERNMENT has disbursed ZWL$10 million to higher and tertiary institutions across the country to promote research that helps with solutions on issues affecting he country, Higher Education permanent secretary Fanuel Tagwira has said.
“Government gave ZWL$10 million to the ministry, which is supposed to go towards research in universities and tertiary institutions. What is happening now is that universities are stepping out to do research and find mitigation strategies for national development,” he said.
A recent research by the World Bank, in collaboration with the ministry, revealed that the country once contributed 3% on innovation on the continent, but now lags behind, contributing only 1,2% towards all researches taking place in Africa.
Tagwira said the decline in the number of research publications made by Zimbabwe was caused by the brain drain at universities as well as the country’s lack of development in universities and other higher and tertiary education institutions.
“What causes the declines has more to do with the quality of academic staff over the years due to a variety of reasons, (for) example, migration of a lot of intellectuals from universities. It is also because universities in other countries have improved, while we continued to go down. Therefore, our percentage contribution keeps going down,” he said.
He also said an area of importance was that of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, revealing that the numbers of students enrolling for the scientific subjects were continuously dropping because of the underdeveloped infrastructure in the different institutions.
“The investment made by government directed at the ministry is for all subjects. However, it also speaks to understanding that STEM subjects need more takers,” Tagwira said.
“While the ministry is looking in all educational sectors, a lot of emphasis is directed at STEM education because that is where we are most affected. The number of students venturing into STEM subject at higher and tertiary education institutions is very low. Our infrastructure in STEM subjects is also very poor.”
He added that the money given to the ministry by government would be distributed to universities through an independent body which will determine research areas affecting the country.
“The government has got what we call research priority areas where our universities are doing research. In Chimanimani, for example, the research would try to come up with disaster mitigation strategies that would help map safe spaces in case of another disaster,” the permanent secretary said.