Zimbabwe: Kwekwe Poly Moves to Harness Ai Opportunities

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Michael Magoronga — Universities and colleges should integrate and embrace artificial intelligence (AI) as it offers immense potential for enhancing quality, efficiency and relevance of the country’s educational system in solving real life problems.

This emerged during a workshop on artificial intelligence held at Kwekwe Polytechnic yesterday, which sought to provide educators and other staffers with the knowledge and tools to effectively integrate AI technologies into teaching practice.

Speaking virtually, Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE) Information Communication Technology (ICT) Director, Dr Gilford Hapanyengwi said AI was key in ensuring that teaching and learning material were able to align with the five key principles of Education 5.0.

“We need to realise that AI applies to the five pillars of Education 5.0 in terms of teaching, research, innovation, community outreach and industrialisation.

“We should be able to ensure that AI is applicable in all these five and as a result, we get to benefit from the teaching and learning process regarding tangible results, which can be used to solve a problem,” he said.

Dr Hapanyengwi said lecturers should be way ahead given that the students themselves are well exposed to AI.

“We should know there is a repository of information that we can use properly for teaching and learning as well as research purposes. The more we utilise it, the more we enjoy the results from there in a meaningful way,” he said.

He, however, reminded lecturers that there should be a balance between the teaching and the learning processes especially the assessment part.

“There is a need therefore to look from the teaching and learning process of view. As lecturers, if we are not aware of AI and if the students are aware, there can be a challenge. If we are not careful with some assessment we do, there will be challenges,” said Dr Hapanyengwi.

“Our assessment has to consider that our students have access to an incredible amount of information hence the assessment should be presumptive that they already have the information,” he warned.

Kwekwe Polytechnic principal, Mr Evans Musara, said by integrating AI into curriculums, graduates can gain exposure to cutting edge technologies making them more adaptable and competitive to the job market.

“AI skills development programmes can be integrated into the curriculum to equip our students with the technological expertise demanded by the evolving job market,” he said.

“The majority of leaders (71 percent) prefer to hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced candidate without them.”

Mr Musara said as an institution, Kwekwe Poly must establish an AI policy that ensures the ethical and prudent application of AI across the institution.

“This policy will provide guidelines for the responsible use of AI technologies, safeguarding against ethical and privacy concerns while promoting transparency and accountability.

“This is because AI is important in revolutionising lecture preparations, marking guides, test preparation and marking, research and innovation, job security, employability of graduates and to guide and regulate our AI initiatives,” he said.

By embracing a balanced approach that harnesses the benefits of AI while addressing legitimate concerns, Kwekwe Poly can be elevated to new heights of excellence.

Workshop facilitator and ICT guru, Mr Zvinodaishe Revesai encouraged participants to embrace AI as it was key in promoting Education 5.0 which is result based way of learning.

He said the workshop was meant to empower educators and administrators on the importance of AI.

“This is to harness and to build awareness and understanding of AI concepts to Education 5.0 and to develop skills of AI platforms to create and foster the Education 5.0 philosophy taking into consideration ethical values,” he said.

The capacity workshop was attended by Kwekwe Polytechnic staff including lecturers and staff members from other departments.

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