The Zimbabwe Open University is geared towards provision of education that will contribute to the modernisation of the country’s economy as envisaged under Vision 2030, Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Gundani told the institution’s 18th graduation ceremony held at the Harare International Conference Centre.
President Mnangagwa capped most of the 2 513 graduands virtually, as has become the norm due to the Covid-19 restrictions, with only those with first class honours and doctorates attending the ceremony physically.
ZOU was set up to allow adults to continue their education and acquire extra skills without having to attend full-time courses at a university, thus being able to continue earning their living and supporting their families.
The ceremony was held under the theme, “Education 5.0 for human capital development through open and distance electronic learning: Towards Vision 2030”.
“ZOU has taken heed of the fact that Education 5.0 is a transformative philosophy that interweaves teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation with the aim of modernising and re-industrialising Zimbabwe.
“The heritage-based philosophy underpinning Education 5.0 clearly articulates a very important value of self-belief arising from an understanding that for a nation to gain the respect of the community of nations, it must understand, appreciate and affirm its own heritage that includes its human capital among other diverse natural endowments,” said Prof Gundani.
The university had embarked on various projects in agriculture to complement Government programmes such as Command Agriculture, Pfumvudza/Intwasa, the Presidential Heifer Pass-on Programme, the Presidential Livestock Inputs Programme and the Horticulture Recovery Plan.
“Through the Faculty of Agriculture, ZOU is poised to make a significant contribution towards human capital development in the agriculture sector through its students graduating with a master of science honours in agricultural management,” he said.
ZOU has also presented for accreditation two new degree programmes in crop production and horticulture.
The university has an 18-hectare farm in Kadoma and another 72-hectare farm in Senga, Gweru, where it is carrying out fish farming, goat rearing and maize, potato and vegetable production.
It has also applied for land in Masvingo Province for its agricultural activities.
Prof Gundani said ZOU has also embarked on other projects that include the installation of solar power at its Mashonaland West Regional Centre at a cost of $1 827 753 and this would be spread to other centres across the country.
“The provision of constant and undisrupted electrical energy is the sine qua non of effective e-learning, research as well as innovation.
“It is our firm belief that the solarisation of the 10 ZOU regional campuses will be a worthy initiative towards making Zimbabwe a middle-income economy by 2030,” he said.
Prof Gundani added that the university was upgrading ICT infrastructure to effectively carry out e-learning.
ZOU has played its part in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic through seconding its counsellors from the Department of Counselling to the Allied Health Practitioners’ Council of Zimbabwe to participate in voluntary tele-counselling during the lockdown.
Among the graduates yesterday were Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Minister Monica Mavhunga, The Sunday Mail Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo, The Herald’s Features, Health and Society Editor Roselyne Sachiti, and Kwayedza secretary Philippa Chinhoyi.
The four graduated with degrees in Development Studies. President Mnangagwa took the opportunity to virtually commission the first phase of the solarisation programme after the graduation ceremony.
ZOU also handed over six tonnes of maize-meal to President Mnangagwa, which he immediately donated to Sally Mugabe Children’s Hospital.