HARARE – Government has abandoned the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) drive as previously adopted by the regime of former president Robert Mugabe.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development minister Amon Murwira issued a statement yesterday to the effect that funding for prospective “A” Level students looking to take up science subjects has been suspended with immediate effect.
“Kindly note that the review is meant to strengthen the initiative and ensure that it brings benefits to Zimbabwe’s industrialisation and modernisation agenda… No funding for new enrolment for ‘‘A’’ Level Stem students shall be made for 2018. Secondly, stop the irregular funding for students at private schools that was previously obtaining,” Murwira said in his statement.
The Higher Education minister said students currently enrolled on the Stem initiative, that is, those in Upper 6 will continue to be funded up to the completion of their “A” Level studies.
He said funds unlocked as a result of these adjustments shall be channelled towards the development of Stem teachers at higher and tertiary institutions, construction and equipping of science laboratories at higher and tertiary institutions and selected underprivileged schools on a need basis.
“(It will also go towards) establishment, equipment and operationalisation of innovation hubs at higher and tertiary institutions, (as well as) expand skills development through increased apprenticeship enrolment (and) support for higher and tertiary education students on attachment,” Murwira said.
“The ministry remains committed to the development of human capital and infrastructure that will ensure that our economy is able to meet the increasingly rigorous and technically focused demands of the 21st century as well as drive the country’s modernisation and industrialisation agenda.”
The Stem thrust was initiated by former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who is now in exile and believed to be behind the formation of an anti-President Emmerson Mnangagwa party named the New Patriotic Front.
The initiative was introduced after the uptake of the science subjects at “A” level subjects had declined.
At its peak, 10 students who registered for Stem subjects in 2016 stood a chance to win a trip of a lifetime to Microsoft and other Silicon Valley Stem companies in the United States.