HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development. My question is on the graduation of students who have completed their education at universities. How are they going to graduate as we are facing this pandemic?
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA): Thank you Hon. Madam President. I wish to thank the Hon. Senator for such a very important question. We are carrying on with graduations but in a very different way. We are limiting the number of students that come for the actual physical graduation. All of them are graduating but we are making sure that most of the students are on a virtual platform, just like we are right now. Because the graduation is a legal process, all of them will be online while His Excellency the President who is the Chancellor of State universities is legally conferring them with their degrees. So, we are having very minimal numbers that are physically present. We already started it at Chinhoyi last week and it was successful. We keep on refining our technique and we believe that through this way we are able to live with the pandemic and still be able to carry out our activities in the new normal. I thank you Madam President.
HON. SEN. DUBE: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology Development. Hon. Minister, what is the Government’s plan for re-engaging STEM programmes so as to promote learning of sciences in secondary schools, especially in rural areas?
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA): Thank you Hon. Madam President. I wish to thank the Hon. Senator for such a very important question. We have never disengaged from STEM. We are doing STEM in a very big way. The only issue is that we have re-organised the way we offer our education into the Education 5.0 Model and in terms of capacitating our students in the rural areas in the areas of science technology, engineering and mathematics, we have now taken a different format. For the first time, we are increasing the number of STEM teachers because we believe that it is the teachers who will then teach the students. What we have done is, in the past only Hillside Teachers College, Belvedere Teachers College and Mutare Teachers College were teaching science teachers but what we did was to make sure that we increase the number of science teachers. What did we do then? We made sure that Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic is now teaching science teachers. They are in their third intake now and they are taking 120 at a time; with Mkoba Teachers College it is the same, Masvingo Teachers College, it is the same. Also this year, we started with Marymount Teachers College. It means we have increased the number of teachers colleges that produce science teachers.
In the old approach that the Ministry used to use, it was giving students money to go and do science subjects but a simple question is, being taught by who because we have a shortage of science teachers. It is always a learning curve. So, after learning that the model was not addressing the real problem, we started training science teachers. We expect that by 2024 or 2022, we would have trained in excess of 5500 science teachers that will then go and teach students in the secondary schools. By that, we are increasing access to science education because science education is not increased by giving people money but by training teachers in science so that they can teach science. This is the approach that we have taken to make sure that every student to the best of our ability has access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for the purpose of modernising and industrialising this country by taking new degrees at our universities and also diplomas at polytechnics within the Education 5.0 Heritage Framework. I thank you.
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