President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the Chancellor of all State universities, has appointed Paul Gundani, the new Vice Chancellor for the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) effective October 1,2019.
Gundani replaces Primrose Kurasha, who died in February 2017. Francis Mugabe was acting vice-chancellor.
Gundani joined ZOU from University of South Africa (UNISA ), which is a citadel of open and distance electronic Learning (ODeL). Gundani, is a full professor of history of christianity in Africa, with more than 30 years of university experience, 16 of which were with UNISA.
He joins ZOU at an opportune time when the university is seized with re-inventing itself and transforming into a premier ODeL institution in Zimbabwe Gundani is a prolific renowned ODeL expert, researcher and administrator to lead the institution. He now leads ZOU, which has more than 10 campuses in different provinces around the country.
ZOU has more than seven faculties and the university’s mission is to empower the world through high quality open and distance learning enabled by technology. These include, Faculty of Agriculture, the Faculty of Arts, Culture and Heritage Studies, the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Commerce and Law, the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, the Faculty of Science and Technology, and the Faculty of Information Technology and Multimedia Communication.
The institution has a Higher Degrees Directorate which caters for those students undertaking Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. All Zimbabwe Open University programmes are accredited by the national regulator, the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education. He also did a project, “The moral and ethical implications of using the “Just war” concept during the struggle for liberation in Zimbabwe”.
ZOU installed President Mnangagwa as the Chancellor of the tertiary institution in December last year. Mnangagwa said government was reforming tertiary institutions in the country to produce graduates who fit into the Second Republic’s industrialisation and modernisation matrix. He said relevant innovative and responsive education, training and skills development should be the lifeblood through which the nation would succeed and prosper towards an upper middle income economy by 2030.
“I urge the Zimbabwe Open University to, therefore, adjust its organisational culture, competitive niche, degree and module structures to align with the present focus of the nation,” Mnangagwa said.
“I further challenge you to be bold and expand your faculties away from the traditional fields of study. Endeavour to offer programmes of the future that will propel our country’s industrialisation and modernisation agenda. No domain of study should be deemed out of your purview.”
The President hailed plans by the university to set up science laboratories and innovation incubation hubs throughout all provinces. This, he said, should revolutionise research into science-related spheres and enhance the teaching of science.
President Mnangagwa also emphasised urgent need to address some basic challenges such as e-learning education resources for more effective learning.
“In that regard, the dependence of distance learning on information communication technology in its delivery strategies can never be overlooked,” he said. “ZOU and other institutions of higher learning must accelerate and keep pace with the information communication revolution. The development of modern online learning platforms and applications should be prioritised.”
The President said rural and remote areas have similar educational needs to those in urban areas hence in line with devolution and the development of provincial economies, access to IT services and high-speed communication as well as internet services were now an imperative to the further democratisation of higher education.
“Internet services providers are urged to prioritise the provision of the requisite services to marginalised areas,” he said.
On its part, the President said, his Government would continuously support distance learning by facilitating the provision of modern infrastructure and the appropriate accessories. “Together we can scale up open learning to greater heights in Zimbabwe,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said as the chancellor of the university he would ensure that the university promoted equal access to additional training, research and innovative developments.
Gundani appointed ZOU Vice-Chancellor “In so doing, we must commit ourselves to quality control, standardisation and academic integrity,” he said. He called on universities to concertedly develop conceptualised learning modules which promote local competencies and incorporate relevant content in the curricula, emphasising on local educational needs and training in line with education for sustainable development.
Further, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, challenged the university to encourage scholarly groups and nurture students who are both academically talented and responsible citizens.
“They must be agents for scientific thinking and innovation as well as the bedrock of new business models,” he said. “Our graduands must have a mindset shift to become providers of solutions than mere beneficiaries of outcomes.”