Jun. 30, 2015


João Leopoldo da Costa

Mozambique

João Leopoldo da Costa

Rector, Instituto Superior de Ciências e Tecnologia de Moçambique (ISCTEM)

TBY talks to João Leopoldo da Costa, Rector of the Instituto Superior de Ciências e Tecnologia de Moçambique (ISCTEM), on creating links for work experience, the socioeconomic development of the country, and the development of new courses.

BIO

João Leopoldo da Costa studied Medicine at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from London University and a PhD from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. He has been the Rector of ISCTEM since July 2004. Previously he was Vice-Dean for Research and Extension at the faculty of medicine at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. He is member of the European Club of Rectors and was formerly public heath consultant for international organizations. He served as a doctor for more than 25 years and spent seven years in rural areas. He was also Provincial Director of Health in Niassa and Maputo.

How would you describe the evolution of your university over the past 18 years?

ISCTEM was launched 18 years ago, in 1996. We started with four courses with less than 200 students at that time. Today, we have around 16 courses, Master's and PhD programs, as well as short-term courses across diverse fields. Our main focus is on courses that correspond to the needs of the market, based on which we develop our programs. Mozambique is experiencing growth in the industries of petroleum, gas, coal, and other main areas in which international companies are interested. It is important that, locally, we have the capacity to take part in related projects by training local staff. Our institution pioneered in petroleum gas management Master's programs in Mozambique. In the future, we will offer other courses on this. We are in contact with some universities all over the world to create programs that can be taught by local and international teachers in this field. We have academic staff coming on board to offer programs on informatics engineering, pharmacy, dentistry, and even for this course on petroleum gas management that we recently opened. I am aware of the need to reinforce the staff body by bringing on board other schools that already have a history of working in key fields. We started with a preliminary approach to Canada, India, and Brazil and will move forward until we create the optimum balance of academics and scientists that are interested in this. Locally, we are also in a process of discussing and involving the National Institute of Petroleum. Furthermore, I see the university as a universal area of debate, and the sciences, after all, are universal. We need to involve more brains, skills, and vision to improve our offering. As I mentioned earlier, we were also the pioneer of courses in Dentistry and Pharmacy, where originally most of our partners were from Portugal. We forged links with companies offering internships to our students and to also canvass their thoughts on gaps in educational provision that we could fill. We have a school of Architecture and one of Law that has been producing successful lawyers for more than 14 years. Currently we have a PhD course in Law that was developed together with the University of Lisbon in Portugal. We have a Biomedical Science School, which offers courses in Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Medicine. We also have a course of Social Sciences and an ISCTEM Business School that offers courses in Companies Management, Insurance, Marketing, Tourism Management, Human Resource Management, and Applied Management. They are designed as a matrix that facilitates exchange of contents among the various programs.

What role are universities playing in the country for socioeconomic development?

The universities might have the critical mass that could produce very independent thinking. But thinking is not enough; we need to act. It is important that companies and society at large also take part in such debates. However, the university holds the principle responsibility in terms of doing research to see what the market lacks and bringing about scientific solutions. Universities can empower people and teach them to deal with problems. Universities should encourage people to play a role. The main barrier to that is adequate facilities, which require investment. The ISCTEM also supports the socioeconomic development of the country by collaborating with the government. For example, we have signed an MoU with the Council of Maputo to allow our health students to go freely to visit families.

What are the objectives of the university for 2015?

My target is to make the Geology and Mines Engineering, Petroleum Gas program, and the Biomedical Science School more robust. The other challenge we have is to open two more post-graduate programs, one PhD in Public Health and another MSc in Nutrition and Food Security.

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