Education 5.0 – towards problem-solving and value creation
Many thanks to a serious and strong hint by His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa, Education 5.0 is now a reality having been adopted by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development headed by Professor Amos Murwira. At the time of writing this piece, Zimbabwe’s knowledge sector, dominated by state universities, should be seized with the practicalities of this exciting development. In brief, Zimbabwe’s state universities’ traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research and community service has been revised to align to the urgent national ambition to attain middle income status by year 2030. It is now demanded of the nation’s higher and tertiary education sector to not only: (1) teach, (2) research and (3) community serve but (4) innovate and (5) industrialise Zimbabwe. Under Education 5.0, Zimbabwe’s state universities must launch into outcomes-focussed national development activities towards a competitive, modern and industrialized Zimbabwe. It is now all about problem-solving for value-creation.
To the level-headed, Education 5.0 is a bold statement to the effect that Zimbabwe’s modernization and industrialization champions must be state universities and with good reasons. State universities, by their nature and character, are better positioned to grasp and decipher the threatening disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced robotics, and the automation of knowledge work that continue to dramatically reshape the global business and social landscape. These institutions, by combining critical thinking, creative thinking, innovativeness and an entrepreneurial mindset to the technological know can provide national economy impacting industrial solutions.
The immediate must-do for our committed Education 5.0 subscribed state universities is adopting and nurturing a job-creator (JCR) mode mindset. The job-creator mindset demands close interaction with their host communities to identify economic opportunities to not only inform their curriculum trajectory but, most important, innovation and innovation research and development agenda. In the job-creator mode the state university sole fascination is exploiting the identified economic opportunities in their host communities to realize university-linked start-ups and ultimately companies that contribute to the national purse. This requires that state universities take advantage of the provincial economy concept being actively promoted in the second republic. This subject has been discussed in previous articles under title “Zim State Universities must also open for business”.
Another must-do for any serious Education 5.0 subscribed state university is to immediately operate in the industry solutions provider (ISP) mode. In comparison to the more lucrative JCR mode, the ISP mode is a low-hanging fruit in terms of immediate revenue generation. Here, the University reaches out to industries in their host communities, learns of their problems, works out and provides the industry solutions. Both modes involve creating economic value from knowledge packaging and offer further benefits to the state universities by way of access to successful industry CEOs to serve as student mentors, as well as industrial exposure and experience that further enrich their research and teaching staff.
Another must-do is for any Education 5.0 subscribed state university demands participation of their Councils in dictating funding and incentives approaches. It is an open secret that State Universities through tuition fees have access to very cheap funds. The traditional tripartite mission elements (teaching, research and community service) are best attended to by provisions for a Research Fund (RF) managed by an active Research Board combining academics and selected state university councillors. The innovate and industrialise elements demand fresh thinking, for example, the setting up of an Innovation and Industrialization Fund (IIF) managed by an Innovation and Industrialization Committee whose members must exclude university staff and are drawn from among the University Councillors, IP lawyers, private and public sector CEOs, business organizations to include venture capitalists with demonstrated track record in successful start-ups. University Councillors should commit a percentage of the tuition fees as seed for both the RF and the IIF. The issue of incentives for staff, students and alumni who make Education 5.0 to happen demands active participation of State University councillors.
Lastly, State University Councils must dictate key performance indicators. It is tradition even at graduation ceremonies to be reported on local student enrollment, graduation statistics and, very rarely, number of research publications or student employability. State university councils in consultation with the parent Ministry could up the game via performance indicators such as international students enrollment, Masters and PhD enrollment numbers, number of international cited research publications, citations, invention disclosures, patents, student employability, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking, Times Higher Education ranking and most important, revenue generated from industry solution-provider contracts as well as revenue generated by the university as a job-creator via university linked start-ups, companies and or direct industrial investor. University linked start and or companies will be those formed by active research academics, current students and or alumni.
Going forward, Education 5.0 as spelt out by Minister Amon Murwira adequately prepares Zimbabwe for the Society 5.0 concept.
Credit – Enock Jonathan