ZIMBABWE: New institute for development opens

The National University of Science and Technology has started a specialist institute for development, in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo. It offers extensive research as its core business, with teaching as a secondary focus.

The Institute for Development Studies, or IDS, which is the brainchild of Milton Webb Ndlovu, the university's executive dean of the faculty of commerce, was opened last month.

Ndlovu said the desire to see efficient use of resources nationally was behind the creation of the institute.

"Development has been left to common sense for a long time - and hence so much underdevelopment in many parts," Ndlovu told University World News.

"We hope to reduce the impact of disasters and risks such as famine and diseases in the rural areas," he added.

According to NewsDay, the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Deputy Vice-chancellor Samson Sibanda said the IDS would critically examine the role and efficacy of state policies and deepen access to quality higher education through research.

The IDS has a research department, which includes Ndlovu and two research fellows, Dr Zenzo Lusaba Dube and Dr Paradzai Pathius Bongo.

The institute offers doctoral and masters programmes and postgraduate diplomas in development studies and in disaster management/development studies. There are also short courses, most of which are tailormade for agencies involved in humanitarian work.

A former banker, Ndlovu reorganised the Faculty of Commerce at NUST, where there were previously two 'alien' programmes - development and disaster management, and development studies. These formed the backbone of studies offered by the institute.

Ndlovu said the initial amount of US$500,000 to set up the institute came from the Faculty of Commerce, which is NUST's largest faculty with just over half of the university's total population of 4,500 students.

The money was raised from the proceeds of a parallel programme that offered the same BCom (honours) degree in the evenings and weekends in 2004. "Incidentally, it meant a huge inflow of extra income," said Ndlovu.

Ndlovu has allocated 30% of faculty funds from self-financing programmes towards research, to supplement the university's contribution.

The IDS started in January, before it was officially opened, and currently has 180 students: 100 postgraduate students and the rest registered for diplomas. Pending its official opening the institute's programmes were offered under the auspices of the Department of Banking or the Graduate School of Business.

Ndlovu said they were waiting to register six more programmes with the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education before the end of the year. These include bachelors in agricultural economics and development finance respectively, masters of science in land and agrarian studies, and masters in peace, leadership and conflict transformation.

He said the institute would contribute to the development of marginalised communities, improving the effectiveness of the efforts of non-governmental organisations, trusts and the government to improve the lives of the poor.

The institute has a target of 1,000 students by 2012, when it will also run undergraduate programmes. By then it expects to have 5% of its student complement as PhD students and at least 10% as foreign students.

The first director of the institute will be Peter Nkala, a former NUST lecturer. The faculty of commerce will mentor the institute for a year before it becomes autonomous.