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Innovation, education key to achieve sustainable development goals and job creation – MoHE PS
January 21, 2021 at 11:9

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Science, technology and innovation in higher and vocational education institutions are key in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and creating jobs through adequate utilisation of entrepreneurial skills among the youth. “Applying the three aspects in learning systems and world of work is cardinal in promoting entrepreneurship opportunities for graduates,” contended Ministry of Higher Education Permanent Secretary (PS) Kayula Siame. 

To actualise these aspirations, the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on key areas of cooperation to deepen institutional engagement in the higher education sector for five years. 

Mrs.  Siame said the Government was widely reviewing efforts to achieve SDGS by developing science, technology, and innovation as well as education and skills development. “Funding in science, technology and innovation in institutions of higher learning needs to be enhanced to strengthen their capacity to undertake research that results into solutions that respond to challenges of youth unemployment.” 

To achieve the goals of the MoU, MoHE and UNDP reaffirmed their commitment to work together for strategic and coordinated approach for delivering impact and called for innovative partnerships to achieve SDGs with Government, civil society, cooperating partners, International Financing Institutions and the private sector so as to identify innovative financing models.

“Improved education and skills training directly affects the national development trajectory by supplying relevant and adequate skilled workforce. National development aspirations require quality education and skills development to meet the needs of the world of work. Enhanced application of science, technology and innovation is an accelerator to human and national development. Science, technology and innovation are priority sectors for development, which have seen continued investment in them,” elaborated the PS.

Mrs. Siame said the Ministry of Higher Education would continue pursuing strategic dialogue on joint priorities at different levels to complement and leverage each organisation’s comparative advantage to the benefit of the country’s development.

And the UNDP Country Resident Representative, Lionel Laurens was pleased to align the contribution of UNDP around the vision of the Government for a country, which leverages its young population for productive and meaningful engagement in the sustainable development of the nation.

 Mr. Laurens said the agreement with the Ministry of Higher Education reaffirmed UNDP’s continuous support to Zambia´s efforts to spur progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The MoU spell out a number of key interventions incorporating acceleration on the role of higher education institutions by building on successful past and ongoing collaborations in the fields of higher education, vocational education and training, application of science, technology and innovation for sustainable development.

During implementation of the MoU, expected key result areas of cooperation will also include applied research programmes, improving youth employability, knowledge sharing and enhancing gender equality. The Ministry of Higher Education and UNDP will identify areas of mutual interest that fostered development partnerships and contributed to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education while promoting lifelong learning opportunities that ultimately resulted in accelerated progress towards achieving the SDGs in the country.

The agreement will also diversely promote public awareness in areas such as enhancing gender equality through supporting initiatives to encourage girls and women to pursue higher education, vocational education and training and specialise in scientific research and technological innovation to promote gender equality. It will also support the women’s empowerment, which are essential conditions for achieving the SDGs. The cooperation will further promote innovations, internship programmes and connect potential youth volunteers with opportunities to contribute meaningfully to their communities, which will make them gain valuable work experience and skills for future employment.

As part of the agreement, the Ministry of Higher Education and UNPD will collaborate on promoting knowledge sharing and mutual learning to accelerate transformation in line with the SDGs. “When all key stakeholders do their part and forge partnerships that pull in the same direction, reaching the SDGs by 2030 will no longer be a vision; it will be reality.”