BY SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
Parlimentarians have applauded progress in the construction of Gwanda State University (GSU) despite limited resources available to the institution.
GSU, whose main campus is being developed at the disused Epoch Mine, already has an enrolment of 300 students, double the number it had when it opened in 2013.
Members of the parliamentary portfolio committee for higher education and science development who toured the university last week said it was primed to be one
of the leading learning institutions in the country.
Fortune Daniel Molokele (MDC Alliance), who chairs the committee, said they were impressed by the infrastructure at GSU.
“I am quite impressed by the work you are doing, you have done more with the limited funding you get from the ministry,” he told the varsity’s vice-chancellor Ntombizakhe Mlilo.
Mlilo told the MPs that GSU thrived on innovation and the university had gone paperless.
“At this institution we do not use so much paper, we have introduced e-learning, and it’s proving to be working well for us because we can have lecturers teaching our students via skype and it’s an advantage for us,” she said.
Mlilo said the university was growing rapidly and they planned to increase enrolment.
“When we opened our doors for enrolment we had 130 students, but I am gladly announcing that our number has more than doubled,” she said.
“We now have 300 students and we are hoping by the time we have our next intake the numbers will rise.”
Mlilo, however, expressed concern that there were fewer female students at the institution. She said girls must be encouraged to study engineering and metallurgy at a younger age.
GSU mainly offers degrees in mining engineering and life sciences.
“Our ratio in enrolment is 70% male to 30% females, which is something we can address if we catch them young,”Mililo added.
“I mean by encouraging girls to take up courses like engineering and metallurgy, and that must be done at grassroot level.”
GSU dean of studies Abraham Babs Nyoni said the institution was facing challenges such as poor internet connectivity and power cuts.
“We have a challenge when it comes to internet issues,” he said.
“We are a paperless organisation and surely we need internet connectivity all the time.
“Power cuts are really affecting us. Although we have plans to install solar, the plans are still in their premature stages.”
GSU boasts of a state-of-the-art clinic within the complex, which is for staff, students, and the local community. A doctor is available at the clinic three times a week.
Molokele encouraged the university to be inclusive when developing its infrastructure to also cater for people living with disabilities.
“I am noting with so much concern that you do not have rumps for wheelchairs and this shows that you are not ready to enrol physically challenged students,” he said.
“I encourage that in as much as your house is in order, try and include all types of students.”
University authorities appealed to the government to upgrade the road linking the university to Gwanda, saying it was inaccessible.
Nyoni said the poor road infrastructure was making it difficult for the university to attract staff.
Mlilo revealed that they were planning to construct a shopping mall to house fast foodoutlets, beauty salons and boutiques to serve the staff, students and the community.
“As GSU, we are dreaming big, we want to construct a big shopping complex that will be rented out to fastfood shops, beauty salons and boutiques and the money from rentals will be used to upgrade the university,” she added.
Molokele said his committee would compile a report detailing their findings after touring institutions of higher learning across the country, which would be tabled in Parliament around November.