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The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande accompanied by his two Director Generals (DGs), Dr Nkosinathi Sishi: DG-Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Dr Phil Mjwara: DG-Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) recently visited the Imbali Education and Innovation Precinct (IEIP); a project that is spearheaded by the Durban University of Technology (DUT) Midlands Project Management Office.

The visit comes after the hybrid IEIP Inaugural Steering Committee Meeting held on 18 March 2022 synchronously via Microsoft Teams and at the Indumiso Campus.

The visit commenced with a briefing session on the progress of the project which was attended by Dr Blade Nzimande, DUT Vice-Chancellor: Professor Thandwa Mthembu, Dr Joe Molete: DUT Midlands Campus Director, Mr Mfanozelwe Shozi: Project Manager- Imbali Education and Innovation Precinct, potential investors and other esteemed stakeholders at the DUT Indumiso Campus Civil Engineering Boardroom in Pietermaritzburg. Subsequently, presentations followed.

The programme was facilitated by Mr Samuel Zungu: Department of Higher Education and Training Deputy Director-General (DDG) and Mr Mfanozelwe Shozi: IEIP Manager, who also presented the establishment and objectives of the IEIP.

“The precinct was proposed by Minister Nzimande in 2014 as a mechanism to pilot and explore an alternative modality of education delivery. The IEIP is intended to be the first of three precincts to be established as part of the new National Plan for Post School Education and Training,” said Mr Shozi.

Delivering the welcome address, Prof Mthembu extended a warm welcome to the Minister in his hometown and potential partners, looking to invest in the project. He said such partnerships are vital for the benefit of the students and he also acknowledged that huge progress has been done on the project since its establishment.

“I thank the DUT team who has been working hard to make sure that we implement this programme which is aligned with our ENVISION2030. Everything we will be doing needs to contribute to the lives and livelihoods of our society. We are no longer a university that produces graduates for the working world but we are producing adaptive graduates that will contribute to and influence change in society. These graduates will be able to respond to the changes and circumstances that they find out there. Even jobs created, are created through someone’s mind. We need graduates who will see what opportunities can be exploited to create jobs,” said Prof Mthembu.

Introducing the Minister was Dr Sishi: DG- DHET who indicated that the Minister’s visit was crucial in celebrating the milestone of the IEIP.

Dr Nzimande expressed that this project is very close to his heart and hopes that the dreams and future plans that he has for the project can come to reality.

“The IEIP has identified the schools so that they can collaborate with each other and to ensure that they build relationships with industries for the students to acquire workplace experience. This project will be beneficial to the whole of Pietermaritzburg and will also boost our economy as it will encourage the youth to be in a space of being innovative and improve their skills,” said Dr Nzimande.

Dr Joe Molete: Midlands Campus Director emphasised the importance of industry and media partnership in making the IEIP project a success.

Dr Phil Mjwara: DG – (DSI) delivered a message of support, pledging his commitment to making sure that it becomes a success and that it positively impacts society.

A potential investor, Mr Alexander also expressed his enthusiasm for working on this project and indicated possibilities of student trainings in the future.

The presentations were followed by a tour where the Minister and other stakeholders visited some of the schools under the IEIP. The tour started at uMgungundlovu TVET (UTVET) College, where Dr Nzimande was fascinated by the practical work done by students. The tour proceeded to Zibukezulu Technical High School and Sukuma Comprehensive High School.

The event concluded with closing remarks which was held at the Innobiz DUT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Pictured: The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande with the DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu.

Zanele Mashaba and Simangele Zuma

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