After completing and passing my Ordinary level studies in the remote district of Chipinge in 1993, I never thought that one day I would be a degree holder. My graduation with a diploma in education was an achievement which never thought would be surpassed. In fact by the time I graduated as a teacher I somehow felt that I had reached Maslow’s highest level of needs. I never saw a bright educational future considering the bottle neck system that existed in higher education by then. The coming in of the Zimbabwe Open University coincided with my commencement of employment in 1999. As the bread winner from a very extended family there was no way I could enroll in a conventional institution of higher learning and the birth of ZOU was real good news. I enrolled with ZOU for my undergraduate degree in Special Education and did very well. This degree enhanced my skills as a specialist teacher at Emerald Hill Secondary School for the Deaf. I left a culture of very good results in my subject area. When I enrolled for a MEd in Educational Psychology at MSU there was a tendency by classmates to look down upon those who acquired first degrees through distance education. In fact we were stigmatized. Our performance shocked everyone. We certainly became consultants for other students who were not used to independent learning. There was acceptance and appreciation of ZOU standards when I scooped the book prize. I did the same when I returned to ZOU for my second masters in Special Education. I have contributed a lot towards the changing of people’s lives and communities around Zimbabwe and Southern Africa through my area of specialization, sign language. I have trained nurses and rehabilitation technicians from referral hospitals in Harare, Chitungwiza and Bulawayo. I have also trained a lot of parents whose children are deaf, civic society members and teachers among many others. In addition I have co-authored the handbook on inclusive education in Zimbabwean Schools. I have been and still a disability consultant to many organizations such Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, DHAT, THAMASO, SAFAIDS, NCHH, AFRICAID, and many others. I feel there are many out there who have the qualifications to pursue higher education. Distance Education is the way to go and it begins with ZOU, the one and only University that is mandated to provide open and distance learning in Zimbabwe. My life has been positively changed by this institution. I laugh lungs out when I hear and read on bad publicity about this institution. I will never regret being associated with my world class university, ZOU. If it were not ZOU I would not be one of the pioneer writers of the first ever HIV, AIDS and SRHR sign language dictionary in Africa published this November 2012.
PHD STUDENT (UNISA)