Equitable manpower development in Zimbabwe; the role of ODL in the past, present and the future

Samukele Susan Moyo, Albert Moyo, Gilbert Dube


This paper seeks to outline and examine the education system from colonial times, assess the
role of ODL in empowering and developing human capital for socio-economic development
and to project into the future of ODL in Zimbabwe. In the past the colonial education encouraged
formal education to the detriment of ODL and this impacted negatively on the socioeconomic
development of the country. This meant that human capital development was constrained
and bottlenecked. With the advent of ODL through institutions like Zimbabwe Open
University (ZOU), opportunities for educational advancement opened up to the general populace.
Human capital was empowered, social status of various individuals was enhanced and to
a greater extent economic development was realised (though it is still debatable). The projection
into the future is that ODL should develop into a system that caters for vocational training
and entrepreneurship. A study was carried out in Matabeleland South involving 50 participants
from ZOU, Municipalities, institutions of higher learning, head of sections from all
Ministries as well as small- medium enterprises. Data were collected through interviews and
questionnaires which were administered to respondents selected purposively. Findings from
the survey indicated that in the past the majority of people in Matabeleland South lacked
access to higher education and therefore lacked the craft literacy, competency and skills
befitting the global village. Findings further revealed that lack of empowerment meant minimal
participation in socio-economic development leaving the majority outside the mainstream
of corporate governance. Furthermore, it was also revealed that with ODL, came massive
skills development that has the potential to curb challenges of brain drain. Conclusions drawn
were that ODL has the capacity to empower the general populace including women who in the
past were marginalised in economic development through cultural stereotypes. It was also
concluded that ODL is an intervention that has the capacity to stimulate entrepreneurial skills
development with a view to creating the much needed employment opportunities in drought
prone areas of Matabeleland South leading to sustainable economic development.

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