ZOU comes of age
By Emmanuel Kafe
A total of 2 513 graduands were conferred with various degrees and awards at the 18th Zimbabwe Open University Graduation ceremony held at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) on Friday.
In tune with the number 18, the graduation in many ways symbolised how ZOU has come of age through the many milestones that it has recorded.
This year’s graduation was special as females outstripped their male counterparts with 1 336 women putting on the cap of knowledge compared to 1177 men.
The Editor of The Sunday Mail, Victoria Ruzvidzo, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours in Development Studies, was part of the huge number of female graduates.
The graduation ceremony ran under the theme, “Education 5.0 for Human Capital Development through Open Learning and Distance electronic Learning (ODeL): Towards Vision 2030.”
ZOU Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Gundani said the institution-which was set up for adults to acquire skills without having to attend full time courses-had blossomed in the past 18 years.
He said Education 5.0 was a transformative philosophy that interweaved teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation with the aim of modernising and re-industrialising the country.
“The heritage based philosophy underpinning Education 5.0 clearly articulates a very important value of ‘self-belief’ arising from the understanding that for a nation to gain the respect of the community of nations, it must understand, appreciate and affirm its heritage, that include its human capital . . . ,” said Prof Gundani.
As part of its continued development, ZOU is poised to make a significant contribution towards human capital development in the agricultural sector.
This year alone, 65 students graduated with a Master of Science Honours in Agricultural Management.
The institution’s Faculty of Agriculture has developed and presented for accreditation two bachelor’s degree programmes in Crop Production and Horticulture.
“A range of farming activities are taking place at the 18-hectare Kadoma and the 72-hectare Senka Farms,” Prof Gundani said, adding that they were also embarking on fish farming, goat rearing, maize, potato and vegetable production.
Constant and undisrupted electrical energy is a driver of effective E-learning, research and innovation.
In this regard, ZOU has over the years successfully installed a $ 1, 8 million solar power system at their Mashonaland West Regional Centre in Chinhoyi.
The solar system has a capacity of 10kw and can service at least 50 computers including general lightning with room for upgrading.
University officials said it is a first in a phased programme that will ultimately cover 10 physical regional campuses where tender procurement efforts are already in progress.
Heritage based education requires universities to be properly resourced technologically in line with requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The university’s management has since adopted a deliberate thrust towards upgrading and rehabilitation of obsolete ICT infrastructure. Prof Gundani said they have successfully completed the consolidation and conversion of internet links to Virtual Platform Network (VPN) links into the TelOne national infrastructure for ease of management and cost containment. The Sunday Mail