Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
BINGA Polytechnic in Binga, Matabeleland North has opened for its first group of students with 45 locals enrolling at the new institution in line with President Mnangagwa’s policy of inclusive development.
The Polytechnic was established at the request of the community when President Mnangagwa visited Binga in April .
The first group of students started lessons at the beginning of the 2022/23 academic term last month.
While works are underway to construct a fully-fledged Binga Polytechnic, the community allocated the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development buildings that will serve as a makeshift college.
The college is incubated by the Bulawayo Polytechnic with students and staff involved in rehabilitating buildings where the Binga Polytechnic College is housed.
The government recently released $50 million to capacitate the institution to start operating.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira reaffirmed Government’s commitment to spreading higher and tertiary education to remote areas.
He said the ministry will leverage its human capital and build colleges in remote areas such as Binga among other places.
The Ministry has adopted an in-house construction policy where colleges and university staff are involved in all the institutions’ building projects.
This has seen the Government reduce costs related to the construction of colleges and universities by 75 percent.
Bulawayo Polytechnic College students are involved in the construction of the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and Binga Polytechnic.
A Chronicle news crew on Thursday visited Binga Polytechnic where the pioneering students commended Government for bringing higher and tertiary education to their doorstep.
The students said while enrolling at other colleges in Bulawayo among other areas was tough, they managed to enrol at the local college with much ease.
Mr Endurance Mudenda, studying towards a diploma in Electrical Engineering, said despite having eight Ordinary Level passes, he had struggled to get a place in other colleges in the country.
He said having a college closer to home will inspire others to take education seriously.
“It will also help others as they complete their studies to enrol here, they will be motivated to do better as the college is right here in Binga. They will not travel to other cities just to access education. The institution is within our locality so we don’t have issues such as accommodation problems. We have limited costs and it is easier to enrol here unlike in colleges such as those in Bulawayo.
“For instance, when I completed my Form Four, I passed with eight O’ levels but couldn’t be accepted at Bulawayo Polytechnic and Westgate Training Centre. But because we are fewer here, I managed to be enrolled for the programme that I wanted” said Mr Mudenda.
Another student, Ms Chipo Mwembwe, who is studying towards a certificate in plumbing, said she never believed that she could be enrolled at a college as she had not attained 5 O’ level passes.
She said she was inspired when she was told that even without the 5 O’ levels, she could get a skills certificate hence her decision to study plumbing.
“What made me enrol here is that where I come from, there is a mining industry so I want to equip myself so that I could be employed. But in case I don’t get employed, I will also be able to be self-employed. This is what we are being taught, that we are not learning to be employees but to also create employment. So having skills will propel me to also be an employer,” said Ms Mwembwe.
The Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Ministry in 2018 adopted Education 5.0 whose aim is to produce graduates who can produce goods and services as opposed to just job seekers with little innovation and skill.
The new higher and tertiary education thrust has seen universities and colleges creating products and goods that respond to national challenges.
Universities and colleges were at the forefront of producing sanitisers following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in the country reducing the import bill.
Another student, Ms Bianca Moyo said the government is helping youths in the village achieve their dreams by spreading education to the most remote areas.
She said when Government started talking about establishing a Polytechnic in Binga, she thought it was just political rhetoric but five months down the line, lives are being transformed.
“It was like a dream; it was unbelievable when the government announced that there was going to be a Polytechnic in Binga. We were not sure if it was going to open so soon. They conducted road shows and that’s when I applied.
“While I did my secondary education in Hwange, I relocated to Binga earlier in the year so I’m lucky to benefit from this programme. I have four O-level passes and being enrolled here without the required five O-levels is a really big opportunity because it’s difficult to be accepted by any institution if you don’t have the required subjects,” she said.
Ms Moyo said she wants to acquire a National Diploma in Tourism and Hospitality Management as she supplements the ordinary level subject.
She said being pioneer students, they have a big responsibility of inspiring other learners in Binga to also enrol at the college.
“We are the first students here and we have to inspire those who come after us about the benefits of enrolling at the college,” she said.
For Ms Power Dickson Mudenda, a tourism and hospitality industry management student, the college’s proximity to home was the biggest motivator.
She said the establishment of the college was proof that Binga is on a development trajectory.
“I’m elated because home is closer and college is also closer. However, we have a transport challenge, we have to walk from the centre to the college, but it is better than going to other cities. The opening of Binga Polytechnic is good because it means we are developing Binga. It’s not only us who are benefitting here but there is going to be a lot of value chain which is going to benefit,” said Ms Mudenda.
She said despite the campus being makeshift, there was a need for internet connectivity as education has largely moved online for research purposes.
One of the Binga Polytechnic lecturers, Mr Ford Nyoni, who hails from Manjolo, said Binga community responded well to the establishment of the college.
“We expected between 30 to 35 learners there about but the figures increased. As a local, coming from Manjolo, Binga I saw if fit to be part of the road shows encouraging learners to enrol. I was encouraging them to move from their usual lifestyles and take up technical courses which will help them sustain their lives,” said Mr Nyoni, who is also a lecturer at Bulawayo Polytechnic.
He said he understood the challenges faced by students coming from Binga especially when they enrol in other colleges as some of their grades will be lower due to schools they would have attended.
Mr Nyoni said students sometimes struggle with transport and accommodation upon enrolling at distant colleges which could affect their performance. — @nqotshili
Article Source: The Chronicle