Higher education has become essential for national economic growth and development in today’s global knowledge economy. As Zimbabwe moves towards national Vision 2030, higher education through the Heritage-Based Education 5.0 model is one of the central pillars for achieving an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.
However, the higher education sector faces several challenges, such as increasing competition, changing demands in the job market, and emerging technologies disrupting traditional research, innovation, teaching and learning methods. To address these challenges and to better equip stakeholders, among them policymakers, there is a need for an integrated higher education information management system that can provide, through data and its interpretation, a comprehensive view of the sector’s landscape and inform the shape and size of higher and tertiary education in Zimbabwe.
To this end, under the direction of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development (MHTEISTD), Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts from higher and tertiary education institutions across the country met recently at the University of Zimbabwe. During the meeting, coordinated by the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE), the participants discussed the progress made in developing an integrated higher education information management system. They also discussed the next steps to speed up the completion of the system named DuraIsiphala263.
DuraIsiphala263 will combine data and information from different higher and tertiary education institutions such as universities, polytechnics, teachers’ colleges, and industrial training centres to create a centralised database or data warehouse. The database will have various modules designed to meet the data or information requirements of the different stakeholders. It will include valuable information on student enrolment in a particular institution, a specific programme or discipline, graduation rates, research outputs, and other critical metrics that can inform decision-making at all sector levels.
One of the most significant benefits of DuraIsiphala263 will be the ability to access crucial data and statistics at the click of a button. Key stakeholders, including the MHTEISTD, the ZIMCHE, and the institutions themselves, will be able to access real-time data on various metrics. This data can be used to track the performance of individual institutions and the sector, identify emerging trends or skills gaps, and inform policy development.
In addition to providing real-time data, DuraIsiphala263 will enhance collaboration and knowledge sharing between institutions. The integrated higher education information management system will also help to break down silos within the sector and create a more responsive, collaborative, and innovative higher education system in line with Education 5.0. Thus, the possibilities are enormous, from sharing best practices and collaborating on research projects to developing joint programmes using DuraIsiphala263.
During the meeting, the Vice-chairperson of the ZIMCHE Council and UZ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Mapfumo, outlined the importance of data-led quality assurance, which he said was fundamental to ensuring a high-quality higher and tertiary education system.
In his presentation, the ZIMCHE Chief Executive Officer, Professor Kuzvinetsa P. Dzvimbo, highlighted the increasing importance of data analytics in the regulatory environment. He also pointed to the need for DuraIsiphala263 to be descriptive by providing insights from the past and outlining the current status quo. Again, it must be predictive to provide future insights. Finally, it must be prescriptive to provide insights into what should be done to achieve the desired outcomes.
Once complete, the robust, DuraIsiphala263 will provide high data capability to transform and shape the country’s entire higher and tertiary education sector.