‘Education system needs re-branding’

Target Shumba Herald Reporter
There is need to re-brand Zimbabwe’s education system and give emphasis to entrepreneurial, technical and vocational training in line with the demands of the 21st century, the Deputy Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mupamhanga has said.

Mr Mupamhanga said the relevance of the education system had become an issue of national concern as the current education was not fully addressing the socio-economic needs of the country as evidenced by the increasing levels of unemployment among the youth.

In a speech read on his behalf by senior principal director in the Office of the President and Cabinet Mr Albert Chikondo during a consultative workshop on skills development in Harare yesterday, Mr Mupamhanga said the imbalance between academic and practical life skills training was worsening the unemployment situation in Zimbabwe.

“Ladies and gentlemen, whilst the prevailing harsh economic environment in Zimbabwe is contributing to unemployment, the imbalance between academic and practical life skills training programmes exacerbate the unemployment situation,” said Mr Mupamhanga.

“There is need to rebrand education and give emphasis to entrepreneurial, technical, vocational education and training in line with the demands of the 21st century,” he said.

Mr Mupamhanga said despite the country’s high literacy rate of 92 percent, the development of vocational and technical education and training had not received maximum attention with prominence being given to academic programmes.

He said this was due in part to the negative perceptions resulting from the colonial legacy of a segregatory education system that relegated vocational and technical education to the less academically gifted students.

Most economies, Mr Mupamhanga said, have realised the need to upgrade and improve their education programmes in response to the emerging skills of the 21st century because of the continued expansion and technological needs of the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

“Therefore there is need to take radical measures to impart technical and entrepreneurship skills in order for Africa to prepare youths to manufacture for the world markets as is happening in China now,” he said.

“The objective is to ensure that learners are equipped with relevant skills appropriate for employment creation and entrepreneurship, both of which are critical for sustainable economic empowerment and social transformation.”

Mr Mupamhanga said the development of vocational and technical skills required a coherent inter-ministerial approach as it transcended the mandate of individual Government ministries and departments.

“It is my strongest conviction that skills development, especially emphasis on practical skills will be given the seriousness it deserves as human capital development is also a priority area in the Zin Asset as well as in the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Framework.”

Speaking at the same event, the Minister of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education, Cde Josaya Hungwe, said skills development was a shared responsibility between the Government and other relevant stakeholders.

UNESCO Regional Director Professor Hubert Gijzen also underlined the need for “collaboration and partnerships” by all stakeholders in support of the Government initiatives to strengthen technical and vocational skills.

“Besides, we should also benefit from extending partnerships beyond Zimbabwe towards regional collaboration; this is to ensure that best practices are identified, experiences are shared, expertise mobilised and collaboration is forged between the countries in the region,” Prof Gijzen said.

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