Causes of Low Student Enrolment At The Zimbabwe Open University’s Harare-Chitungwiza Region for The Period 2008-2013

Wellington SAMKANGE

The focus on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) has given people an alternative to acquiring and developing skills in areas of their choice especially those related to their jobs. While its introduction was met with different responses, it could be noted that in some cases ODL has been viewed with scepticism and in others it has been received with excitement and hope. Such euphoria and hope has in some instances contributed to an increase in enrolment in higher institutions of higher learning that offer the ODL model. However, these high enrolments have not been sustained in the case of the Zimbabwe Open University, Harare- Chitungwiza Region. There has been a decline in enrolments over the past five years. This study sought to identify the causes of low student enrolment at the Zimbabwe Open University’s (ZOU) Harare- Chitungwiza Region was conducted. The study used the qualitative research methodology, guided by the grounded theory paradigm as it sought to answer the questions about ‘why’. Data were collected through open-ended questionnaires, interviews, participant observation and through the social medium. The data were collected from current students, inactive students and alumni. Data were analysed through open coding and axial coding. The study concluded that there was a causal relationship between student enrolments at the Zimbabwe Open University’s Harare-Chitungwiza Region and a number of causal factors and conditions. The main causal factors were knowledge about ZOU and the Region, the ODL mode of delivery, the ZOU image, policy changes on payment of fees and negative media reports about ZOU. The study recommends strategies that would help improve the ZOU image.

KEYWORDS: Enrolments, Open and Distance Learning, Causal conditions INTRODUCTION The

DOI : 10.17718/tojde.00843