By William Milasi
Government is finalising the process of turning Polytechnics in the country into degree awarding institutions a senior government official has said.

Officiating at Kwekwe Polytechnic’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, Higher and Tertiary Education Permanent Secretary, Francis Gudyanga said plans to turn polytechnics into degree offering institutions are at an advanced stage.
Gudyanga said Polytechnics must be, “technology incubators and start up hubs for industrialization and modernisation of the country.”

“The Ministry is currently finalising a policy to transform all Polytechnics in the country into degree awarding institutions,” Gudyanga said.

He said Polytechnics, “will offer STEM related Bachelor of Technology (B-Tech) degree programmes.”
“Polytechnics will offer STEM related B-Tech degree programmes that provide technological solutions to Zimbabwe’s Industrialisation and modernisation challenges,” he said.

Staff development, Gudyanga said is key in the transformation of Polytechnics to be degree offering institutions.

“The key variable in the fruition of the Ministry’s initiative to transform Polytechnics is staff development.

“Institutions need to have a clear staff development programme where lecturers study towards B-Tech, M-tech, D-tech and other STEM qualifications,” the Permanent Secretary said.

Government is currently encouraging an increase in the uptake of STEM related courses during the enrollment periods.
“The Ministry has mandated all state higher and tertiary education institutions in the country to reconsider their enrolment dynamics to ensure that there is an increase in the uptake of STEM related courses.
“Through STEM we intend to see our Polytechnics being technology incubators and start-up hubs that are necessary in the industrialization and modernisation of our nation,” he said.

Gudyanga said that the country needs to develop home-grown solutions so as to unlock the country’s natural resources.
“Without the integration of STEM, there cannot be any meaningful home-grown development. Otherwise we would see a situation where we will perennially import technologies to extract and process our resources instead of creating our own,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kwekwe Polytechnic Principal Rejoice Mbudzi has retired from government.

At the helm since 1999, Mbudzi under his leadership saw the institution scooping international awards which includes the European Society for Quality Research (ESQR), Berlin German and an International Star for Leadership in Quality (ISLQ) award, recently in France.

The institution has also introduced the Industrial Metallurgy discipline a programme which was in response to the demands of Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.

Mbudzi also introduced a technopreneurship module which is found in the B-tech programme.

The programme trains students on intellectual property, entrepreneurship, business planning and development.
“I joined teaching when I was barely 19 and half years, I spent the best part of my life 946 years) teaching and 17 at Kwekwe Polytechnic.
“As I retire, I go with peace in my mind, knowing in fought a good fight and I have finished my race,” he said.