Zimbabwe Open University

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Zimbabwe Open University
ZOU Logo.png
MottoEmpowerment Through Open Learning
Established1999 (1999)
ChancellorPresident Emmerson Mnangagwa
Vice-ChancellorProfessor A.C. Ncube
Academic staff
  • 36 Professors
  • 171 Academic Staff
Administrative staff
P. O. Box MP 1119 Mount Pleasant, Harare
, ,

Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) is a open distance education university in Zimbabwe. Established in 1999,[2] ZOU is the only distance education university in the country.[2][3] Student enrollment at ZOU has been growing steadily from the time of its formation and in terms of enrollment it is the largest university in Zimbabwe.[2] The Zimbabwe Open University has seven faculties under which the academic programmes are conducted.


After independence, the Government of Zimbabwe adopted a policy of education for all.[4] To address the need for high skilled manpower the 5 Year National Development Plan (1991–1995) stated:[4]

Investment in human resources development is investment in human capital and complements investment in physical and technological innovation. The natural environment can support higher population levels only through technological progress, which requires continued investment in human resources development. Since 1980, GOZ (the Government of Zimbabwe) has aimed at creating an education system that would address the socio-economic needs of the country.[4]

The University of Zimbabwe, which was the single university in the country at that time, could not cope with the demand for university education.[4] Two commissions were established: the Williams Commission (1981) and the Zimbabwe Open University Feasibility Study (1986).[4] In July 1994, a committee was formed to investigate the development of university distance education.[4] The commission recommended that there is need for distance education at university level to upgrade skills and "to provide a continuing education facility for the adult population".[4] Based on these recommendations the Centre for Distance Education (CDE) of the University of Zimbabwe was formed in 1993.[5][6][7] In 1996, it became the University College of Distance Education (UCDE)[6][7] and finally renamed to Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) on March 1, 1999 by an Act of Parliament.[5][8] The first Vice-Chancellor was Professor Peter Dzvimbo.[9]

Below is a table showing student enrolment in the Zimbabwe Open University from 1999 to 2017:

Year 1999[10] 2000[10] 2001[10] 2002[10] 2003[2] 2004[10] 2005[10] 2006[10]
Total student enrolment 14,313 16,995 23,161 17,770 19,228 20, 400

The year 2001 marked the increase of the enrollment figures to 23,161. It was because Commerce degrees were introduced that year.[10] There was a decline in student enrollment in 2002 because some found independent learning difficult and many students faced economic difficulties.[10] In 2003, a total of 19,228 students were enrolled in the university which constituted 46.9% of the total university enrolment in the country.[2] According to 2006 estimates, approximately 20,000 students are enrolled in the university which makes it the largest university in Zimbabwe.[1][11]

Vision and mission[edit]

According to the website of the university, ZOU's vision is the "VISION To be the university of choice in open and distance learning

MISSION Empowering the world through high quality open and distance learning enabled by technology 2018".[12] The core ideology of the university is "to develop a best-practice enterprise-culture-based open and distance learning university focused on influencing development and change".[12] ZOU's website states its mission is "to empower people through life long learning, thereby enabling them to realise their full potential in an affordable and flexible manner while executing their various endeavours".[12]


The Zimbabwe Open University is a multidisciplinary and inter-faculty institution.[4] It offers both degree courses and non-degree courses.[4] The university has six faculties: the Faculty of Science and technology, the Faculty of Arts and Education, the Faculty of Commerce and Law, Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, Faculty Agriculture and Faculty of Information Technology.[4] A total of 24 programmes are offered under these faculties.[4] As of 2006;

The Faculty of Education:

  • Department of Educational Studies
  • Department of Teacher Development.[10]

The Faculty of Science and Technology has four departments:

  • Department of Health Science,
  • Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Department of Geography and Environmental Studies.[10]

The Faculty of Commerce is the largest faculty.[10] It has three departments:

  • Department of Banking and Finance Management and Business Studies
  • Department of Accounting
  • Department of Human Resources, Marketing and Labour Relations.[10]

The Faculty of Agriculture has three Department:

  • Department of Agricultural Management
  • Department of Animal Production - Work in Progress
  • Department of Soils and Plant Sciences - Work in Progress

Faculty of IT and Multimedia Communications has two departments:

  • Department of Information Technology
  • Department of Software Engineering

Faculty of Applied Social Sciences

  • Department of Counselling
  • Department of Development Studies
  • Department of Disability Studies
  • Department of Information Science and Records Management
  • Department of Peace
  • Department of Psychology

Faculty of Arts, Culture and Heritage Studies:[13]

  • Department of Heritage Studies
  • Department of Languages and Literature
  • Department of Media and Journalism Studies
  • Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy

The course delivery methods include print media, compact cassettes, videocassettes, telephone, fax, e-mail, CDs and radio broadcasts.[2] ZOU arranges for its students monthly face-to-face meetings with tutors in its regional centers.[14] The university is envisaging the introduction of telelearning/teleteaching methods in its course delivery.[15]

ZOU was a partner in the Electronic Distance Training on Sustainability in African Local Governments (EDITOSIA), a project started in 2001 aimed at formulating recommendations for policymakers of the government, training institutions, municipal associations and other agencies regarding promotion of teaching methods for building the capacity of African governments to deal with the challenges of local sustainability.[16]

ZOU has partnered with the Foundation of Angel of Hope led by Zimbabwe `s First lady to give women a chance to improve their lives through offering free learning to Zimbabwe`s disadvantaged women. The programme is intended to cover all of Zimbabwe`s provinces to empower women in different life skills. The First lady, Mrs Mnangagwa urged all women, young and old to go back to school in order to benefit their families and communities .https://allafrica.com/Auxilliastories/ 202203010212.html. The Vice Chancellor of ZOU, Professor Paul Gundani and his team embraced the programme and were ready to offer their guidance to the benefiting women.https://www.herald.co.zw/thousands-benefit-from-first-ladyzou-partnership-more-expected-to-join/


The library of the university was fundamental in the success of ZOU.[17] The libraries consist of a branch in each of the regional centers handled by two people.[17] These libraries are very popular.[17] The administration of all the libraries in different regional centers are centralized to maintain uniformity and easy coordination.[17] The library of ZOU has agreement with other universities in the country under the Zimbabwe University Libraries Associations to use each other's facilities.[17]

Effects on the nation[edit]

According to Mr Mhlotswa, the Deputy Librarian of the Zimbabwe Open University, the course on agriculture offered by ZOU has contributed significantly to the land reform programme in the country.[17] The industry also praised the university as many of their employees have improved performance after undergoing the ZOU programmes.[17] Graduates from the ZOU are established in almost every sector of the economy of Zimbabwe.[8]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b An academy in Zimbabwe[permanent dead link] International Center for Theoretical Physics
  2. ^ a b c d e f The status of open learning and distance education in Zimbabwe Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Zimbabwe Open University Utilizes Synapse to Deliver Web-Based Education Across the Country
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Access to tertiary education as a national strategy for development - The Zimbabwe Open University case World Bank
  5. ^ a b Liz Burge; Elizabeth J. Burge; Margaret Haughey (2002). Using Learning Technologies: International Perspectives on Practice. Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 0-415-21687-7.
  6. ^ a b Conversion of Zimbabwe Open University to Decentralized Web-Based Learning Archived April 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Knight-moore.com
  7. ^ a b Higher Education and Open and Distance Education as a Strategy for National Development: the ZOU Case UNESCO
  8. ^ a b The Transformative Aspect of Open and Distance Learning Towards Equity and National Brain Gain: the Zimbabwe Open University Case Archived December 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Association of African Universities
  9. ^ "About ZOU". ZOU. Archived from the original on May 6, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m The role of Zimbabwe Open University in open and distance learning in Zimbabwe University of South Africa
  11. ^ Penny Dale; Matt Holland; Marian Matthews (2006). Subject Librarians. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. pp. 182. ISBN 0-7546-4095-7.
  12. ^ a b c Zimbabwe Open University: Vision and Mission Archived April 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Zimbabwe Open University
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Glen A. Jones; Patricia Louise McCarney; Michael L. Skolnik (2005). Creating Knowledge, Strengthening Nations: The Changing Role of Higher Education. University of Toronto Press. p. 33. ISBN 0-8020-3856-5.
  15. ^ Challenges faced by Zimbabwe Open University in planning to integrate telelearning in its course delivery: A case study Archived May 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Commonwealth of Learning
  16. ^ Gianluca Misuraca (2007). E-Governance in Africa, from Theory to Action. IDRC. p. 299. ISBN 978-1-55250-369-0.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g The library as a tool for development: the case of Zimbabwe International Federal of Library Associations and Institutions

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 17°47′00″S 31°03′13″E / 17.783221°S 31.053693°E / -17.783221; 31.053693