Government is actively reviewing degrees offered by State universities with a view to standardising qualifications and abolish ‘irrelevant’ programmes that are ostensibly creating ‘idle’ graduates who do not have innovative skills, it has been learnt.
Authorities intend to remodel university curricula to improve the competitiveness of local tertiary qualifications.
The Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (Zimche) has since been directed to audit all degrees at State universities.
The reforms, which are part of recommendations from the Zimbabwe National Qualification Framework, are also meant to ensure that 80 percent of core courses for similar degrees offered at all universities overlap. Higher Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the realignment was expected to be complete in time for the second semester (around August) this year.
“What we are doing is we have silently radically reformed higher and tertiary education since last year, after our skills audit,” said Prof Murwira.
“One of the things we did was to ensure that we have the Zimbabwe National Qualification Framework, which makes sure that our degrees equip graduates with knowledge and skill. We are, therefore, streamlining our education so that it results into that goal of producing goods and services.
“We have some degree programmes which, when one completes the studies, that person cannot even do what he has learnt.”
Prof Murwira said all degrees would be modelled according to the recommendations from the Zimbabwe National Qualification Framework.
“We promulgated three Statutory Instruments: SI 132 for higher education; SI 133, which caters for primary and secondary (education); and SI 137, which caters for the polytechnics. These Statutory Instruments are there to ensure that all degrees have minimum bodies of knowledge and skill, meaning all degrees must result in goods and services.”
Prof Murwira said the new measures were already being used in training doctors and lawyers.
“We are sharpening our higher education so that it results in what we want; we do not want to produce graduates that will, at the end of the day, not know what they will do in life. It is now the work of ZIMCHE to ensure quality standards in higher education are met.
“I am not saying there are specific programmes that will be dropped, that work is technical and will be done by ZIMCHE,” said Prof Murwira.
According to the 2018 National Skills Audit, Zimbabwe has a massive shortage of critical skills, with medical and health sciences, including applied and natural sciences accounting for the highest skills deficit.
The audit revealed that arts and humanities had a modest deficit of 18 percent, while the engineering and technology skills cluster has a 93,6 percent deficit.
Despite agriculture contributing around 70 percent of employment in Zimbabwe, the skills deficit in the sector stands at 88 percent.