Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT is placing special attention on construction works at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) as it is poised to be a bedrock of the country’s industrialisation and mordenisation, which has seen it receiving the highest budgetary allocation.
The Second Republic has shown a new impetus towards the development of Nust whose construction projects have been stagnant for years.
Nust received the highest budgetary allocation among State universities in the 2023 National Budget presented by the Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube last Thursday.
For the second year running, Nust has been allocated money reaching the $1 billion mark towards construction works.
Treasury allocated $9,8 billion towards infrastructure development at State universities with Nust chewing over $1,2 billion from the total amount.
It is the only university to get a budgetary provision exceeding $1 billion.
The university was allocated $600 million towards the construction of the Nust library while $500 million was budgeted towards the construction of the Technovation Centre, formerly the Students Service Centre as well as $130 million for innovation hubs and industrial parks.
From the $130 million, $80 million is for the innovation hub and $50 million for the development of the industrial park, an amount which was also allocated across all 11 state universities.
As a result of Government continued funding, relative progress has been registered in the construction of outstanding buildings at Nust such as the Technovation Centre.
Nust is supposed to have 27 buildings, but only seven have been completed and some buildings are now dilapidated.
A construction crane which had become a symbol of lack of progress at Nust for years has been removed from the Nust library site.
Recently, President Mnangagwa laid a foundation stone for the construction of the Technovation Centre.
President Mnangagwa said the Technovation Centre must empower academics and students to develop cutting edge science, technology and innovation-based solutions to solve societal challenges and exploit opportunities which the economy has to offer.
In an interview, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, said Nust is strategic towards the country’s industrialisation agenda.
As a result, he said more attention will be placed towards its development as it had for years had lagged behind in terms of infrastructure development.
“Science and technology innovation are the bedrock of our progress and Nust is a very important leading university which is actually a university of science and technology. It therefore means we are paying special attention to Nust because for years Nust was in the wrangles of construction contracts and all sorts of things and we have overcome all that,” he said.
“We are now constructing Nust on our own and the road is very clear and the intentions are very clear to make Nust the mother university of science, technology and innovation.”
He said Nust is a specialised university which requires specific infrastructure and the Government is going to fill its infrastructural gaps.
Prof Murwira said the thrust that the Government has for Nust is in tandem with Vision 2030.
“As Nust is our mother university in terms of science, technology and innovation, so we are just behaving according to our intentions,” said Prof Murwira.
He said funding for universities is important for the country in driving a knowledge based economy.
Prof Murwira said infrastructure development has to align with Heritage Based Education 5.0 which aims to use local resources for national development.
“The programmes should be answering to human needs, human capital, the staffing has to be appropriate, the physical and digital infrastructure has to be appropriate in line with our intention to use knowledge and innovation for industrialisation and modernisation,” said Prof Murwira.
“So, our intentions have to be matched by our budgeting. Our intention is to become an upper middle-income economy as enunciated by His Excellency, the President Dr. E.D Mnangagwa. Our capabilities will be developed using Heritage Based Education 5.0. But for Education 5.0 to work our programmes have to work.”
He said in doing so, Government has realigned 15 laws governing the higher and tertiary sector to create an enabling environment for the growth of the sector.
“The physical and legal infrastructure is what is being reflected by the Government. The first pillar of implementing Education 5.0 is called financing infrastructure which is the budgetary allocation. So, the budgetary allocation is a reflection of our intention,” he said.
“We have national strategic intent which is to become an upper middle-income economy to industrialise and modernise the country as enunciated by His Excellency, the President Dr. E.D Mnangagwa but for that to happen we have the necessary capabilities.”
He said the Government is working to ensure staffing at the country’s universities conform to the revolution that the ministry is leading.
Government through the budget is also funding other state universities.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development allocated $700 million towards the construction of a pathology laboratory and construction of the Faculty of Law at Midlands State University.
$800 million was also allocated towards the construction of the Faculty of Humanities at Lupane State University and Gwanda State University was allocated $400 million towards rehabilitation of infrastructure, construction of a lecture block and a mining lab.
The University of Zimbabwe was allocated $400 million towards the construction of Students Affairs Building and Halls of residence, Bindura University of Science Education got a provision of $700 million for the construction of male hostels and Great Zimbabwe University was allocated $100 million to build a hospitality school.
The Harare Institute of Technology was allocated $250 million for the construction of laboratory plaza and rehabilitation of infrastructure.
Other institutions that received allocation include Manicaland University of Applied Sciences, Marondera University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology and Zimbabwe Open University. — @nqotshili
Article Source: The Chronicle