A Tracer Study on How Open and Distance Learning (ODL) has transformed Lives of People with Disabilities in Zimbabwe [2010 to 2014]

Phillipa Mutswanga, Godfrey Tsvuura


Generally, tracer studies have gained popularity in conventional institutions while a dearth of knowledge exists on how ODL impacts on diversified learners, such as, people with disabilities (PWDs) in Zimbabwe. ODL was established after Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence with a view to meet the scramble for education by people who had failed to access existing conventional institutions due to their conditions, families, financial status and many other reasons. This academic revolution and expansion then, gave birth to ODL whose goals aim to transform the lives of all the disadvantaged and vulnerable learners including PWDs. The authors observed that the majority of ODL learners with disabilities live better lives after successfully attaining their tertiary and higher education qualifications. On the other hand, many PWDs and the society at large do not seem to notice the benefits PWDs could gain through ODL. In regards to that, many resented the idea. The study employed the qualitative technique to trace the life-styles of ODL graduates with disabilities with views to give insights about its civility to all people and also add value to ZIM-ASSET goals where every individual is expected to contribute to transform Zimbabwe to a sustainable socio-economic country. Data was collected through snow-balling selected ODL graduates from 2010 to 2014 using triangulated data obtained through in-depth interviews, observation and non-participant observation. Guided by research questions and thematic content analysed data, the study noted that despite unemployment challenges, ODL is a license to sustainable socio-economic lives for PWDs and their countries. While ODL is reported a relevant learning mode for PWDs because they studied within their natural settings, the experiences in this study varied from individual to individual but they recurrently recommended ODL institutions to always consider PWDs in all their plans; dreams and also create user-friendly learning environments and provisions for all learners.


tracer study, ODL, transformations, People with disabilities, Zimbabwe, 2010 to 2014

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