Anglicans to open country’s fifth church-run university

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe is to open its first university, in the east of the country – the latest of several church groups to establish a higher education institution. The new university will open next academic year and will specialise in health-related disciplines.

The Anglican University in Zimbabwe is being set up by the Anglican Church Diocese of Harare, which is one of 15 dioceses of the Church of the Province of Central Africa that encompasses Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It will be one of an estimated 900 church-associated colleges and universities across the world. The Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion, a global network of Anglican colleges and universities, has more than 131 members, with seven universities in Africa.

Other churches already have universities in Zimbabwe. They are: Reformed Church University, in Masvingo in the south, a church founded by the Afrikaner Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa; the Seventh-Day Adventists’ Solusi University near Bulawayo in the southwest; United Methodist Church’s Africa University in Mutare in the east; and the Catholic University of Zimbabwe in the capital Harare.

Anglican University

A ground-breaking ceremony for the Anglican University in Zimbabwe was held on 26 September after land for the institution was allocated by the church at Rufaro Longlands Farm, about 10 kilometres south of the town of Marondera, east of Harare, according to NewsDay.

The newspaper indicated that the Methodist Church planned to build a university at Waddilove High School, and that a public university specialising in agriculture was waiting the go-ahead from President Robert Mugabe.

The head of the Anglican University’s steering committee, Professor Joseph Matowanyika, told Radio VOP that this was not the first time that the Anglican church had mooted the idea of establishing a university in Zimbabwe.

The university already has a provisional licence from the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education, and student enrolment will begin by the second half of next year, he added.

Higher education in Zimbabwe is not meeting the demand for places, Matowanyika said, claiming that public universities had around 70,000 students and private institutions some 20,000 – while around 300,000 Zimbabweans sought education opportunities outside the country.

“We are not getting into education for the money, and we have not been in it for 100 years for money but to help in the moral and intellectual development of our people based on a Christian value system,” Matowanyika explained.

The higher education sector

According to a 2014 report entitled Challenges Facing University Education in Zimbabwe, the country had only one state university at independence in 1980 and now there are 13 – eight public and four church-run universities (soon to be five).

Around 18% of students graduating from secondary education get admitted into tertiary institutions, which means that four in five young Zimbabweans have no opportunities for training or acquiring employable skills.

One of the challenges for the higher education sector is widening access for ever-increasing numbers of potential students who are currently not absorbed into higher education.

The report also revealed that Zimbabwe’s universities are facing challenges in research and publication, quality assurance, loss of qualified and experienced staff, high student dropouts and lack of funding.

It recommends among other things that industry and commerce assist universities in funding and collaborative research. Also, public and private partnerships could assist in assuring higher education quality.