Annex 5

Conversion of Zimbabwe Open University to Decentralized
Web-Based Learning

Prepared by Peter K. Dzvimbo, Ph.D. and Peter T. Knight, Ph.D.


Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), Zimbabwe’s leading distance and open learning institution, seeks external technical and financial assistance to meet the capital costs of its planned transition from print-based to web-based delivery of learning materials.


ZOU was conceived as the Centre for Distance Education at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) in 1993, and then in 1996 became the University College of Distance Education before becoming an independent institution in 1999. In its first 18 months as an independent institution it went from 12,000 to over 20,000 enrolments, over twice as many as its parent institution. ZOU’s Vice Chancellor (equivalent of President in a US institution), Professor Peter Dzvimbo, received his Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin.

The Project

ZOU seeks to expand dramatically its operations first in Zimbabwe, second in Anglophone SADDC countries, and third in other countries of Africa using primarily web-based teaching and learning, delivered via the Internet, reaching a total enrolment in all programs (including continuing education for lifelong learners) of 150,000 by the year 2004, and by that year become fully financially self-supporting for its current operations.

ZOU requires external financial assistance to support its 2001-2004 Strategic Plan. Given the difficult macro-economic situation facing Zimbabwe, ZOU cannot count on sufficient funding from the Ministry of Higher Education and Technology or student fees (currently making up 45 percent of ZOU’s budget) and other forms of self-finance to meet its capital funding, including staff training.

Phase I –2001-2002

Phase II –2003-2004 – Includes GSTF Pilot Project

Pknight 06/02/00