GOVERNMENT will bring back student loans and grants starting next year in an effort to improve skills and manpower development, a Cabinet minister has said.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo told delegates at the just-ended Zanu-PF Annual National People’s Conference in Masvingo that his ministry had already engaged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to structure a new student loan scheme.
“The ministry has engaged the RBZ to structure a student loan scheme for higher and tertiary education institutions to be run by financial institutions with proven micro-financing capacity,” said Prof Moyo.
“This scheme will be launched in the coming year to help parents and guardians who are struggling to pay higher and tertiary education fees for their children.”
Student grants were discontinued around 2006 due to cash flow challenges and replaced by a cadetship programme in 2010.
The latter did not yield desired results as it was also dogged by funding difficulties and failed to pay fees for scores of students, leading to failure by some to sit for examinations.
Prof Moyo said after an extensive consultations, his ministry had concluded that Zimbabwe’s quest for industrialisation and modernisation could not be achieved without a new human capital base driven by technological and engineering skills across the economy, in the public and private sectors.“No country anywhere in the world has industrialised and modernised its economy without technological and engineering skills taking centre stage and leading the way. It is not possible to create and develop a new industrialised and modernised economy without requisite skills in the form of human capital. Skills are the engine of industrialisation and modernisation,” he said.
The minister also revealed that a decision on the infrastructure bond for higher and tertiary education institutions had been finalised by the State Procurement Board.
“The decision will be made public shortly after the usual formalities have been done. It is hoped that the bond will go a long way towards addressing challenges such as student and staff accommodation as well as administrative and learning infrastructure,” said Professor Moyo.
He said the interventions were part of a raft of measures by the ministry to ensure universities were relevant to national policy challenges and met the training and research needs of society and industry.
“As an expression of Zim-Asset, the implementation of industrialising and modernising Zimbabwe is the creation and development of a new economy, which Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa and RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya have been talking about,” said the Minister.
He added the interventions sought to overcome the challenges faced by tertiary institutions under the Zim-Asset banner of STEM 263.
“Our aim is to ensure that universities are relevant to national policy challenges and meet the training and research needs of society and industry,” said Prof Moyo.
In this regard, he added, the ministry would be announcing next week a Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) grant of $150 000 to a consortium of researchers from some of the country’s national universities and their counterparts from the SADC region. – Herald