Zambian Open University
From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
The Zambian Open University (ZAOU) is a distance education university in Zambia, located in the suburb of Villa Elizabetha close to downtown Lusaka.
It has been planned that three study centres will be established in Lusaka, Kitwe and Livingstone.
As of November 2009 the ZAOU web site was defunct, casting some doubt as to current operations.
In addition to the Bachelor of Education for Primary, Secondary and Adult Education, it now offers the following programmes:
There are now two Academic Schools: School of Education, and School of Law and Social Sciences.
In July 2009, ZAOU appointed Professor Francis Yamba as the university’s chancellor - http://www.lusakatimes.com/?p=15613
The university, like some other open universities, is not completely open in its admissions policies - see http://www.zambianopenuniversity.ac.zm/Entry_Requirements.html for the entry requirements in terms of O levels etc.
In February 2002, six founders sought to establish a private university which would contribute to the alleviation of some of the problems faced by the existing Zambian universities in providing higher education. They realized that the demand for higher education by primary and secondary school teachers with certificate and diploma qualifications was high and could not be met through traditional methods of teacher education. In 2002, there were 32,000 primary school teachers with certificates and over 7,000 secondary school teachers with diplomas in education who needed university education.
In February 2000 the Zambian Open University was registered with the Registrar of Companies as a Company with Limited Liability. The founders invited 40 Zambians to participate in the running of the institution through purchase of shares.
The Ministry of Education asked ZAOU to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Zambia (UNZA) before it could be recognized and registered (under University Act No. 26 of 1994). The MOU emphasized on the need for complementarily rather than competition between the two institutions was signed on 2nd November, 2004. The MOU allowed ZAOU to engage services of UNZA staff and draw on existing curricula of UNZA while reciprocating this with transfer of some fees accruing to staff to UNZA.
In December 2004 the Minister of Education officially registered ZAOU thus heralding birth of the first Open University in Zambia. ZAOU admitted 450 of the 700 applicants and enrolled its first 208 students in the month of February 2005.
ZAOU is a distance education institution that utilizes mainly print and electronic media and supplements tuition through informal tutorial groups, face to face residential tutorial and weekend lectures. Materials are written in conversational style and are of two types: self-contained modules and study guides. Self-contained modules are longer and carry more information in depth. They can be read without any other materials. The study guides are read along side prescribed and recommended books.
Upon payment of fees for a semester students receive modules and are assigned to informal tutorial groups comprising ten students per group in accordance with the programmes. Students meet twice per week in tutorial groups to discuss contents of modules by answering guide like questions in the modules. They also resources such as books.
Occasionally, weekend lectures are held in different locations and students pay a small fee to attend. Tutors are also sent to groups on request.