Gweru Polytechnic shines at the 2016 All Africa public sector innovation awards
GWERU Polytechnic has received the prestigious Special Award at the 2016 All Africa Public Sector Innovation Awards (AAPSIA) Ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Ethiopia which was organised by the African Union (AU).
AAPSIA is an Africa-wide awards programme that celebrates innovation in the public sector. The programme also recognises and rewards the achievement of public officials and their partners from the private and not-for-profit sectors that have successfully developed innovative solutions to service delivery and governance challenges.
The 2016 awards programme was open to all government departments and public entities across Africa. The theme for 2016 awards was “The Public Sector Innovating Towards the Africa We Want”. The theme acknowledged the strong relationship between good governance and accountable service delivery. The projects which were considered for the 2016 AAPSI Awards were in the following three categories;
Innovative Service Delivery Institutions:
— Improvement in service delivery to citizens and stakeholders external to Government or
— Improvement in internal efficiency within the public sector.
Innovative Partnerships in Service Delivery:
— Involve creative partnerships that have resulted in better than anticipated outcomes for the project or
— Build sustainable relationships between Government and other social partners through alternative approaches to participation and consultation.
Innovations in the Systems and Processes of Governance
— Projects focused on building accountable, transparent and ethical public services which value the input and participation of citizens.
Gweru Polytechnic submitted its project on Medical Service Provision, in the Innovative Partnerships in Service Delivery category.
However, because of the uniqueness of the project it was then categorised as a special project and went on to win the “Commissioner for Political Affairs’ Special Award”.
Out of the 54 Africa-wide entries, only two projects were categorised as special.
Gweru Polytechnic students come from various socio-economic backgrounds and their fees and levies, including medical aid, are gazetted by the Government. The majority of the students enrol with no prior medical aid arrangements. The statutory medical aid contributions paid by students in polytechnics are so minimal ($10 per term) that the Polytechnic could not enter into any meaningful arrangement with established medical aid societies.
Prudence, therefore, dictated that a system must be put in place to ensure that students access basic medical treatment for their wellness as they pursue their academic endeavours.
The Medical Service Provision project was therefore initiated to ensure that with the meagre termly student medical aid contributions, students can access medical care and services from reputable institutions in Gweru, namely Premier Service Claybank Hospital and Medical Air Rescue Services (Mars).
The need to provide quality medical services culminated in the establishment of strong and sustainable partnerships with an ambulance service provider and a local private hospital to ensure smooth transition of sick students from the Polytechnic to a medical institution for treatment with neither prior payment nor arrangement with any medical aid society.
Due to prior arrangement with the medical service providers, students’ medical emergencies are attended to efficiently when need arises. The partnership with service providers enables all students to have access to premium medical care, on a pay-later basis.
Instead of contributing to a medical aid scheme, the institution has only been paying for services rendered thereby realising considerable financial savings. The Polytechnic has plans to channel the savings towards the construction of a clinic.
The aim of AAPSIA is to award successful and effective service delivery improvement projects and initiatives that have been achieved through the application of innovative approaches, methodologies and tools.
The AAPSIA project is part of a bigger endeavour by African Ministers of Public Service/Civil Service to cultivate an enabling environment within the public sector for the development and nurturing of innovative ideas and initiatives.
By conferring this highly prestigious award to Gweru Polytechnic and Zimbabwe, the AU through AAPSIA confirmed that Gweru Polytechnic is a unique institution with innovative leadership which has the capacity to come up with internationally acclaimed and acceptable home-grown solutions, to local challenges, which can be replicated across Africa. This award is proof that limited financial resources are not tantamount to poor service delivery. Gweru Polytechnic therefore encourages other Government institutions to embark on service delivery projects and innovations which seek to enhance the betterment of society.
This can be done by the utilisation of limited resources at their disposal through, inter alia, building sustainable relationships with other partners.