The London based Royal Academy of Engineering has partnered the Midlands State University’s Mining Engineering Department in a human capital development programme that saw six staff development fellows receiving mentorship from established engineers working in various industry and mining concerns around the country.
A team of mentors that included Engineers Norman Mukwakwami, Rennias Tirivabaya, Nevaid Dzimunya and Omberai Mandingaisa took the MSU Mining Engineering Department staff development fellows on an intensive three-month staff secondment mentorship programme to help prepare them for their postgraduate studies and academic careers.
The training capacitated the mentees in practical elements of the mining sector, career guidance on which postgraduate studies to pursue, guest-lecture support as well as module drafting and standardisation.
Speaking during a virtual meeting that evaluated the effectiveness of the mentorship programme on the 23rd of April 2021, Faculty of Engineering and Geosciences Executive Dean, Dr Antony Mamuse described the programme as a worthwhile initiative that brings value to the department in a win-win partnership with players in industry.
“We are strengthening our degree programmes by incorporating that essential industry component in our training. As we bring onboard industrial partners it means our degree programmess are going to bear the fruits of Education 5.0 which are goods and services,” said Dr Mamuse.
Senior Lecturer in the Mining Engineering Department, Engineer Tawanda Zvarivadza commended the public-private partnership as a necessary intervention that improves the quality of teaching and learning at the institution as well as increases relevance of the University’s degree programmes.
“These collaborations between industry and academia are very critical in terms of bringing that practical and international relevance to our degree programmes. The issue of a mentor working with a specific mentee ensures that we develop competent upcoming academics so that the degree programme solves practical industry problems,” said Eng. Zvarivadza.
Following recommendations from the mentors, several demand-driven training programmes have been created and are awaiting approval by the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE).
One of the mentees Lawrence Ndhlovu said “the arrangement was very productive and engaging. It bridged the gap between theory and practice and I am confident that it will help us deliver high-quality training. I wish for the programme to continue so that we can all continue to benefit from each other in this mutually beneficial arrangement”.
World Bank Consultant and Extractives and ESG Due Diligence Specialist Engineer Norman J. Mukwakwami who was part of the team of mentors applauded the inclusion of small scale mining elements into the curriculum since it has become a significant producer of certain minerals in Zimbabwe.
There are an estimated half a million small scale miners in Zimbabwe that produced 24.8 tonnes of gold in 2017.
The staff secondment mentorship programme was funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering through the Higher Education Partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa (HEPSSA) programme so that mentees learn industrial skills to enhance the practical value of their teaching.
The Midlands State University team is working with the Chinhoyi University of Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), National University of Science and Technology, Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Cardiff University (UK) and University of Strathclyde (UK) in implementing the HEPSSA programme.