Windhoek - Ministers responsible for education, science and technology in the SADC region have called for a speedy implementation of the key policies and guidelines needed to set up a regional university in a bid to improve skills development.
While education is a key focus area for the SADC region, member states have seriously varied statistics when it comes to availability of kills. This has made migration of those with skills to other countries a key aspect while creating a brain drain for other.
Proponents of the regional university believe it is the missing link in synchronising kills development in line with the regional blocs needs as well as creating a cross pollination of ideas in all member states for development.
The regional university, which is currently work in progress, will set up an administration office in eSwatini in 2020 and will be responsible for sourcing the relevant skills needed to operationalise from all the 16 member states.
Key among the resolutions taken by the ministers responsible for education, science and technology last week at their meeting in Windhoek is the need to hasten the establishment of the university and drive impetus on transforming it into a modern institution.
“Ministers endorsed the draft concept, the draft concept paper for the operationalisation of the SADC University of Transformation and recommended it to council for approval. Ministers directed the Secretariat to conduct a comprehensive skills audit, costed and time bound roadmap for the operationalisation of the SADC University,” read minutes from the ministers’ deliberations.
The SADC ministers also called for the establishment of innovation and information centres in the different member states as a way of improving access to tech education.
The SADC ministers responsible for science, education and technology also concurred that the establishment of technology in member states will be a key driving force in driving the regional agenda to industrialise.
Ironically, while the member states in region share a common vision and dream on industrialisation, levels of education in the different member states is viewed as one of the major challenges for the region to industrialise at once.
While the SADC region has a better literacy rate, the ministers also concurred that most of the countries needed to find a way of closing the gap between the industrial needs and the quality of graduates produced.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, both Itah Murangi-Kandjii and Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who are the ministers of Higher Education, and Basic Education in Namibia respectively, said there was a need for the region to identify its weaknesses in the current education structure in relation to the key needs of industry.
As part of the broader discussion, the region also expressed confidence in the progress so far made in assessing their engineering skills and capacity that the bloc has.
The SADC region set up a working committee consisting of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho to assess the skills needs in key aspect such as engineering and technology expertise in 2018.