All Set For Anglican Church In Zimbabwe University Launch

The Anglican Church Diocese of Harare led by Bishop Chad Gandiya will this Saturday officially launch its university in the city of Marondera.The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Professor Jonathan Moyo is expected to officiate as the guest of honour. Archbishop Albert Chama head of the Anglican Church of Central Africa (CPCA) local and regional bishops,clergy, congregants as well as government officials including provincial minister Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri and captains of industry are also expected to attend.

Radio VOP reporter Kingston Ndabatei talked to the concept steering committee point-person Professor Joseph Matowanyika himself an Anglican Alumni. Below are excerpts

KN: Just to begin tell us about your role in the university concept set-up.

JM: In August 2013 the Lord Bishop Dr Chad Nicholas Gandiya head of the Diocese of Harare in the Church of the Province of Central Africa set-up a team to look into the possibility of establishing an institution for tertiary education to be run by the church under the Diocese of Harare in the Anglican Faith. We needed someone around whom the work was to be done and I was appointed.

KN: How far have you gone is setting up structures for the envisaged institution?

For the two years I have talked about we discussed what kind of issues we needed to tackle and the kind of tertiary institution we needed. We thought of a polytechnic but also realised after consultations that we could incorporate the polytechnic as well in a university and then decided on that. You will know that every tertiary institution in the country must be registered with the Council for Higher Education (Zimchre) and it took us quite a while to get our papers ready to be registered but now we have the provisional license. That has given us leeway to go out and start looking for funds for the project. The groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday is like handing over the project to its owners, the Anglican Church especially in the Harare Diocese (CPCA). There are about 70 parishes and any other interested parties, we had not committed ourselves to fundraising or insisting on any donations even from those that had promised until we have registered with the authorities.

KN: Why specifically an Anglican university?

JM: The Anglican church was the first faith based organisation to put up a primary school specifically for Africans in 1894 in the then Rhodesia and then in 1939 went on to establish the first secondary school that enrolled black in the form of St Augustine’s Mission in Penhalonga. Our education was racially divided so for more than 50 years we have done a lot of work in training teachers and nurses.

The question then arose as to the kind of institution we should have beyond what we have done. So we decided we would go for a university because within that institution we can incorporate polytechnic studies. We have contributed very significantly to the development of education in this country but beyond that we have over 900 colleges and universities across the world that are associated with the Church. The largest concentration is in India, we also have in the United Kingdom and those run by the Episcopal Church in the USA. But in Africa we have only about seven Anglican universities.

Another reason and maybe the biggest is that university education in Zimbabwe is far from providing adequate space and I think only about one percent of those that go through our primary and secondary system find their way into tertiary institutions and just doubling that two percent means we have to double the space of universities. The state universities take up to 70 000 while private institutions take up something like 20 000.

We are also joining other churches like the Methodists, Catholics, Adventist, the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe and Zaoga (Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa), so it was time the Anglican Church joined these. It is not the first time we have muted the idea although it is the first time we have reached this stage because of varying reasons. Figures suggest that anywhere around 300 000 Zimbabweans are seeking education opportunities outside the country.

We will make our contribution but far from bridging the gap that exists now.

KN: Do you now have an idea of the kind of curriculum likely to be offered by the Anglican University?

JM: When we were given the task of investigating the possibility of the university we flirted with the idea of establishing a university exclusively for disabled people given the fact that we have at least 2 million people who can be described as such in one form or another. We also looked at the issue of aging to the aged. Our social systems are not primed to cater for these and if you add the two figures of disabled and the aged- from-65 year upwards then almost 40 percent of the population is in this bracket. But we realised it is a highly specialized area and expensive. 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 on Christian value system.

We have professors and others but these have become individualistic in nature. It is the individual who is raised on the pedestal and not the community as is our Shona culture that is given credit for raising the professional. Our people are not taught to give back and be directly responsible for their community’s development for example on water quality as a scientist. So we want to teach people to be practical and go back to their communities and make telling contributions to these areas development. It is a different approach we are taking, we want to teach life skills, psychomotor education and such other society linked issues. We would also want to branch into bio-medical sciences to address such issues as aging, disabilities, child and family matters on a more broad-based platform.

The Anglican University will also help address the health system of the country which is at the moment extremely elitist in our view, so we want to help development in that area. Train professionals in sports medicine, management and design of equipment and gadgets, so these are some of the programs we are looking at and training from diploma up to Master’s level.

KN: Who has been invited to the groundbreaking ceremony?

JM: We are expecting the the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Professor Jonathan Moyo to be guest of honour. The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama and Zimbabwean and regional bishops are also expected. We are also expecting over 3000 members and officials from education and other ministries as well as captains of industry and the whole of Marondera community and its leadership.

KN: Have you started to set up linkages with other institutions of higher learning locally and beyond?

JM: Of course we have already held informal meetings with most universities in Zimbabwe including the University of Zimbabwe which plays a maternal role to most of the institutions that have come up after it.

We will begin formal discussions once we have a university council which is our next stage now and we will also expect to join the association of vice-chancellors which is a very helpful platform. We consulted with other universities even as we structured the curriculum for example the bio-medical science that we talked about because our students might then need to complete their studies to become conventional medical doctors at the UZ.

KN: Let us talk issues of funding obviously lots of money will be required how much are we looking at?

JM: We are looking at a total investment of about $300 million in the next 20-25 years but in the short term a couple of millions will get us going. We were initially going to start using other people’s premises but we then decided against it. So ours will be a green project, we are starting from scratch. It is difficult because of our economic situation at the moment but we will try and manage. We will seek funding from outside and barring any unforeseen circumstances we should secure the necessary funding to begin enrolments by the second half of next year.

KN: Finally will you limit you enrolment to students from Anglican schools?

JM: We will take students from all over. We are open as Anglican schools have always done. We have people who go to the church only at school and when they complete they are done and that tradition will continue.