Minister of Higher Education, Prof Nkandu Luo, at PASET Forum in Kigali, Rwanda

The 5th Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) has been taking place in Kigali – Rwanda from 20th through to 22nd May 2019. The Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Prof Nkandu Luo, is leading a delegation from Zambia to the PASET Forum under the theme “Destination Digital Africa: Preparing our Youth for the Future”. The forum is being attended by more than 20 countries who include 16 Ministers of Education, Science and Technology, representatives from Universities including the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University and collaborating partners from the World Bank, Singapore, China, South Korea, India and the United States.   

The PASET Forum observed a significant challenge associated with a very low number of youths across Africa who have access to quality frontiers of digital technology to support their technical education in secondary education, colleges and universities. In addition, the PASET Forum discussed widely the challenge of lack of access by many young people across Africa to basic education.

Arising from discussions, Zambia has re-affirmed the need to invest in training infrastructure to accommodate the 4th Industrial Revolution and undertake extensive sensitivity programmes on mindset change supported by regulatory reform. Zambia also acknowledged that it would need to leverage on financing from development partners and multilateral organisations to improve nationwide access to internet connectivity and upgrade technology in educational institutions.

Further, the need to prioritise digital training and connectivity of all higher education and TEVET institutions was brought to the fore in addition to the need to re-skill the trainers and develop human capital capacity among policy makers and managers. It was also underscored that there was need to enhance private sector participation in Zambia with regards to education and training.

In order to adequately prepare youths for the 4th Industrial Revolution, ensuing discussions also endorsed the need to conduct a comprehensive skills needs assessment, develop a digital skills framework to inform curricular, teaching and assessment. The need to twin TEVET institutions with strategic partners within Africa and in Asia for technology exchange, benchmarking and staff exchange was also recognised.

The Minister of Higher Education, Prof Luo, also held discussions with the World Bank regarding support to the High Education Sector as the world prepares for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Prof Luo identified the need to move forward the national Strategy by implementing a programme of enhancing Information Communication and Technology (ICT) connectivity to all universities and TEVET institutions across the Country. She emphasised the need for collaborative work with other line Ministries including the Ministry of General Education, the Ministry of Communication and Transport, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Development Planning.

The World Bank advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Sajita Bashir, informed Prof Luo that there was room for the World Bank to support Zambia’s Higher Education sector particularly with regards to Skills Development and indicated that the Ministry should prepare a comprehensive master plan on areas that require urgent Bank support. Dr. Bashir said there was need to discuss the promotion of skills training on the one hand and connectivity of institutions of higher learning on the other, in order to promote digital learning.

And Word Bank, Digital Development Practice Manager, Dr. Michel Rogy, suggested during the meeting that a workshop be held in June 2019 to sensitise stakeholders on the importance of digital learning, connectivity and possible support to the higher education sector.

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Prof Nkandu Luo told the representatives from the World Bank that the sector was in need of significant support in order to realize its full potential within the context of the 4th Industrial Revelation as it was a key driver of national development. Prof. Luo also indicated that she would engage private sector representatives such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Mines, Zambia Federation of Employers, Zambia Association of Manufacturers and many others in an effort to strengthen linkages between training and industry.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Higher Education has agreed to partner with Mohammad the VIth Polytechnic University of Morocco. The said university would provide scholarships at postgraduate level for Masters and PhD students and researchers in public institutions. The possible partnership was agreed to by the Director for Initiative of Science, Technology and Innovation, Anoual Jamali, of Mohammad the VIth Polytechnic and the Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Prof Nkandu Luo during the on-going PASET Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.