‘Age not barrier to educational pursuit’ Zimbabwe Open University Chancellor President Mnangagwa confers (in absentia) an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies degree to First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa — represented by Dr Sthembiso Nyoni (right) — at the institution’s graduation ceremony in Hatcliffe, Harare, yesterday. — Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

Zvamaida Murwira

Senior Reporter

Age and distance should not be a barrier for one’s educational pursuit as the Government has provided platforms for distance learning for those who are unable to realise their academic objectives using formal learning, President Mnangagwa has said.

He said Government would continue to support tertiary institutions providing distance learning to ensure  everyone accessed education despite one’s age or place of origin consistent with the Second Republic’s policy thrust of leaving no one and no place behind.

President Mnangagwa, who is Chancellor of all State universities said this yesterday after unveiling a plaque of a foundational stone of the Zimbabwe Open University Hatcliffe campus where he capped 3 040 graduates with undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees, during the institution’s 20th graduation ceremony.

Some of those that defied age and graduated included Timothy Kuguyo (61) who was conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy in Marketing Management and Kudakwashe Maponga (70) who graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management degree.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa was also conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree in Development Studies for her outstanding philanthropic and development work that has not only drawn attention and admiration locally but globally.

Speaking to the media, President Mnangagwa said Government will continue providing support for everyone who wants to better oneself academically through open distance learning.

“As I have said, education has no age limit and I said that the only person with authority to end education is Mr Death. Before that, anybody can continue to increase one’s education. It is equally important that not everybody in the country will get what they want in life through formal education. So this institution (ZOU) has the burden and mandate to continue carrying forward from formal education to education through distance learning,” said President Mnangagwa.

“I have said, under my watch and administration I will make sure

that ZOU is supported and should have infrastructure across the country because there must be no single part of this country where you may find people failing to get facilities to learn. As long as you give facilities to all the provinces and districts I am sure you will have people learning and improving themselves. It is critical that we all support the university.”

On what his expectations were for the new graduands, President Mnangagwa said they must work towards improving their country.

“Unlike in the past when our aspirations when we were young, I am over 80, during our time we aspired to be a clerk at an Indian shop or a white man’s shop. That to us was the crown of being educated. But today the young generation from year to year must see the transformation of their motherland from better to best,” said President Mnangagwa.

“I believe that Education 5.0 which changes the outlook of education, universities must produce students who produce goods and services which are needed not by foreigners, firstly by the people of this country, secondly when there is a window to supply the needs of other countries, then they apply themselves, that is the focus and philosophy of our current education.”

Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni represented the First Lady who is in Russia on official business and read her acceptance speech.

In his citation, ZOU Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Gundani said the mother of the nation was an embodiment of an African woman and mother as evidenced by her dedication to uplift the underprivileged which has seen her earning reverence at home and abroad.

He chronicled several activities that the First Lady had undertaken, including restoring the African culture through Unhu/Ubuntu.

“The welfare of the girl-child and the woman has become the trademark of her philanthropy in all the nooks and crannies of the land of Zimbabwe. The Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba programme has not only generated a cultural renaissance but has left a lasting impression on the national psyche regarding how best to leverage on and integrate the African heritage in the socialisation of the African child. No wonder she has earned local and international accolades for her humanitarian and developmental programmes,” said Prof Gundani.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira weighed in saying greatness is measured by what one gives to others and not what one does to himself or herself.

Prof Gundani said of the 3 040 graduands, 1 198 were males while 1 842 were female.

“Once again, female graduands far outnumber their male counterparts as 61 percent constituted female,” he said.

He said the provision of world class education to 10 000 rural youths of Zimbabwe through the Rural Education Transformation programme and the creation of new Industry Specialist Professional Talents was on the cards as ZOU had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a strategic partner, Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship of Malaysia.

ZOU’s partnership with the First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation, said Prof Gundani, enabled them to contribute towards human capital development and innovation with the aim to transform lives of disadvantaged communities as the country strides towards Vision 2030.

“I am proud to say that through the partnership between the Angel of Hope and ZOU, we managed to launch a bouquet of short courses from February to April 2022 across the country’s provinces. The life changing short courses roped in experts from line ministries who included health workers, agronomists, sign language trainers among others who volunteered to partner ZOU in the training of Angel of Hope Foundation beneficiaries,” said Prof Gundani.

In separate interviews, newly capped graduates, Dr Maponga and Dr Kuguyo said the sky would always be their limit in their pursuit of educational greatness.

Dr Maponga said: “I was in the electronics field with Supersonic company and went to ZBC where I was a technician for transmitters. I returned to Supersonic radio manufacturing company and we would export radios to South Africa.

“I then went to Solusi University and did agribusiness. I had bought a farm so I went to Solusi University to enable me to increase output at my farm.

“I then did my masters degree with ZOU which enabled me to go to work and at the same time study. I then said to myself ‘let me maximise my emancipation by doing my doctorate’.

“It was not easy because at one time I had health problems because of my diabetic condition. When doctors were able to control my sugar levels, I resumed my studies with ZOU until I completed my doctorate. I am very happy that I have succeeded in my endeavours.

Dr Kaguyo said he was initially contended with the Diploma in Wildlife Management that he held but later realised the importance of upgrading himself.

“I did an Executive Diploma in Business Leadership. I then continued by reading for a degree in Marketing and a Masters in Business Administration.

“It was not easy with my age as I had to balance a lot of things, work commitment, family and even finances. I had a situation where my children also wanted to go to school and the fees were taking their toll.

“It was a long journey but I am excited with today’s graduation. You can go to school even when you are 100 years old.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Responsible for Mashonaland Central Province Monica Mavhunga was also conferred with a Master of Social Science in Development Studies degree.

Others who graduated include Zimpapers staffers Rest Mutore, Pauline Mhuka and Patrick Chitumba.

The event was attended by Government ministers, captains of industry, legislators and senior Government officials among others.

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