PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday warned against corruption and nepotism rampant at institutions of higher learning, which has seen the awarding of bogus degrees.
BY TINOTENDA MUNYUKWI/EVERSON MUSHAVA
He called on perpetrators to be swiftly brought to book to restore the culture of awarding deserving students on merit.
His calls come against a backdrop of ongoing investigations by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission into the fishy awarding of a Doctor of Philosophy degree to former First Lady Grace Mugabe reportedly in a record three months.
Addressing delegates attending a meeting between the executive and university vice-chancellors, Mnangagwa underlined the pivotal role universities have to play in coming up with ideas for economic recovery.
He, however, emphasised that retrogressive corruption cases which have eroded academic merit must be dealt with swiftly.
“Higher learning institutions should shun and abhor corruption, nepotism and bribery. Deplorable corrupt and immoral tendencies that have seen undeserving students getting passes must stop,” Mnangagwa said.
He cautioned lecturers at universities who were manipulating students while abusing them at various levels for reciprocal favours.
Mnangagwa called on all perpetrators of the rife academic rot to be brought to book in order for Zimbabwe to preserve its known excellent academic legacy.
“Our students both male and female should not be subjected to abuse in whatever form for marks or higher grades. Learners must be free to report any cases of corruption without fear or favour. The perpetrators should be brought to book and it is upon us all, to ensure the integrity of our educational system remains intact.
“The values of honesty, transparency, accountability and high standards of professional ethics must be promoted at every level from the learners to the top administrators in our institutions,” Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa raised profound concern on the sexual abuse of underprivileged female students within institutions of higher learning, and called to order all ‘sugar daddies’ preying on innocent girls blaming them for spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
“Government remains concerned with the moral decadence and associated health risks to learners within our institutions and this situation cannot be allowed to continue unchecked. Real men do not prowl on university campuses and take advantage of young girl’s socio-economic backgrounds and abuse them,” he said.
The President implored institutions of higher learning to put more emphasis on innovation as well as tailor-make learning programmes to suit the demands of modern industry.
Mnangagwa said the country could no longer afford the luxury of training for the sake of training, but institutions of higher education should be technology incubation centres where innovation originates.
He exhorted universities to establish academic synergies with industry, commerce and other renowned international universities and centres of academic excellence to boost their capacity in research and technology development through academic co-operation.
“I, therefore, urge members of the academia, researchers, scientists, captains of industry and commerce to begin to engage to ensure that skills required by industry are the ones taught at our various colleges and universities,” Mnangagwa said.
“Our curriculum and course content should be continuously reviewed to meet industrial needs and expectations.
“We can no longer afford to train just for the sake of training. It is, therefore, my fervent hope that using the capabilities in various disciplines in all our learning institutions, we should be able to develop technical and managerial skills which speaks to the identified deficiencies in both private and public sectors of our economy.”
Mnangagwa said universities should not be satisfied with producing high literacy rates while producing students without the intellectual capacity to be productive and responsive to society’s needs for present and future generations.