The nearly-million strong Adventist population of Zimbabwe is close to breaking ground on a second Adventist tertiary institution in the country, offering a wide variety of degrees, according to Farukai Mbiriri, education director for the Zimbabwe East Union Conference.
Question: Construction on Chegutu Adventist University, a new higher level institution in Zimbabwe, is due to begin shortly. When do you expect to break ground to begin building the campus?
Answer: Chegutu Adventist University construction will commence soon. Both the church and the government are keen that construction starts as soon as is possible. We are waiting for technical teams to complete preliminaries. As soon those are done, we are ready for ground breaking.
When you do expect the first students to begin studying at Chegutu Adventist University?
The university should open its doors for the first enrollment in 2020.
Chegutu Adventist University will be the second Adventist tertiary institution in Zimbabwe, is that right? Why do you feel that you need another university in Zimbabwe?
Yes, Chegutu University will be the second Adventist tertiary institution in Zimbabwe after Solusi University. It is very necessary to have another institution of higher learning in Zimbabwe so that we increase the options we offer our children and not limit them to what is available at Solusi. Currently we have our children travelling as far as the Philippines, USA, Europe and around the world for educational opportunities.
What degrees will students be able to earn at Chegutu? Will the university offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses?
The Zimbabwe East Union Conference has engaged a consultant to closely study the gaps in the degrees offered by our church in Zimbabwe and beyond, as well as those that are offered by other universities in the country. However some of the areas of interest include:
1. School of Law
2. School of Commerce
Human Resources Management
Banking and Finance
Business Law and Ethics
3. School of Engineering
4. School of Humanities
Journalism and Media Studies
Languages and Culture
5. School of Life Sciences
Nursing (which should be different from what Solusi is offering)
6. School of Social Sciences
7. School of Education
Religious and Moral Education
The consultant will look closely at the above and make recommendations on these and other programs.
Is there a university president in place? Any teachers hired yet?
There are no appointments yet for the university. Those will be done after the church gets the charter from the government to start operating the institution.
Can you tell me your title at the Zimbabwe East Union Conference? Have you been involved in the university project from the beginning?
I am the Education Director for Zimbabwe East Union Conference. I have been involved in the project since its inception.
How long has the plan been in the works? When was the land bought and how was it paid for? How is the creation of the university being funded?
The land for Chegutu Adventist University was donated to the Seventh-day Adventist Church by the municipality of Chegutu in 2013. The land measures about 54 hectares of virgin land. Adjacent to this land is another piece of land that was donated for the purpose of building a secondary school. That school is now in operation as Chegutu Adventist Secondary School.
Funding is currently from the conference budget. This has covered expenses such as drilling for water, architectural drawings, structural engineers, quantity surveying, architectural plans approval, and environmental management assessment.
How many students do you hope to attract?
We target a student population of over 800 for a start and increase this to over 1,000 as the institution grows.
How will the fees at Chegutu compare to other universities in Zimbabwe? Will you help students who aren't able to afford the cost?
Studies being carried out by the consultant will guide the union on fees policy.
Do you envision most students will be Adventists? How many Adventists are in Zimbabwe?
The primary student target is Adventists because these often meet challenges in non-Adventist institutions. But recruitment will not be limited to Adventists. In Zimbabwe the Adventist population is now 900,000. We are confident that with such a high population of Adventists, we will receive enough students.
How will Chegutu be similar to other Adventist universities around the world? How will it be different?
Chegutu will offer an Adventist education that recognises God as the creator and that humans must be restored to God’s love and image. As earlier stated, the university will try and fill gaps in areas of learning that are not already on offer at other universities on the continent and beyond.
Alita Byrd is interviews editor for Spectrum.
Photo courtesy of Farukai Mbiriri.
We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.