Government will not discontinue the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme, but will ring-fence the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF) to support its vital projects, a Cabinet minister has said.
ZIMDEF is now expected to support an intensive STEM teacher-training programme, offer students on attachment allowances and promote innovation hubs, among others.
Addressing lecturers and officials at the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) on Friday last week, Higher Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the STEM programme had been adulterated to support private schools and funding Advanced Level scholarship programmes. These activities, he said, were tantamount to corruption.
"No one can destroy STEM because that is the science complex," said Prof Murwira.
"What we have stopped is paying of A-Level scholarship programmes because ZIMDEF money is for Higher and Tertiary Education. On another note, we cannot use ZIMDEF to support private schools, that is corruption. We cannot also have Government money paying for students who can afford their fees, that is corruption. Government money goes to the needy. So we will support the needy from time to time when it's necessary."
Prof Murwira said some people were peddling falsehoods that Government had discontinued STEM. The programme, he indicated, was important for Zimbabwe's industrialisation drive.
"STEM is very important and I cannot be misquoted for convenience by people who are trying to hide the misdemeanours in the name of STEM," he said.
On teacher training, Prof Murwira said, three institutions have already been identified to start training secondary teachers and upgrade their laboratories.
"We are going to support an intensive teachers' training programme and we have already Mkoba Teachers' College, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Technical College and Masvingo Teachers' College, which were training primary school teachers to start training secondary teachers of STEM and enhance their laboratories from ZIMDEF," he said.
Prof Murwira said students on attachment were facing various challenges, including paying for their bus fares.
"We will stretch that money to try and find out if we can give our students at least something when they are on attachment," he said.