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Towards a Critical Colonial Analysis of the Crisis in Higher Education in Zimbabwe: A Case Study of the University of Zimbabwe Open Access


Other title
Higher education, neoliberal globalization and authoritarian nationalism
Zimbabwe, neoliberalism, authoritarian nationalism, higher education
crisis in post-independent Africa, education, democracy
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Hwami, Munyaradzi
Supervisor and department
Kapoor, Dip (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Abdi, A. Ali (Educational Policy Studies)
Smith, David (Secondary Education)
Mookerjea, Souryan (Sociology)
Kachur, Jerry (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The dawn of independence in Zimbabwe in 1980 was received with high hopes and expectations by the people but after twenty years of black majority rule, the crisis of the post-colonial condition, well documented in other African countries began to be repeated in Zimbabwe. After experimenting with Western projects of development and neoliberal globalization, Zimbabwe, and specifically higher education institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe became embroiled in a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. The purpose of this study was to explore and understand how the processes of ZANU PF nationalism and neoliberal globalization have contributed towards the crisis in higher education in Zimbabwe. The study also sought to elaborate on some possible responses to the crisis in higher education, especially in relation to necessary and renewed policy directions. A critical interpretive study of the University of Zimbabwe, informed by critical colonial theoretical perspectives, was undertaken to explore the crisis based upon the views of twenty participants including students, faculty members, administrators and a government official. Purposive sampling was used to select participants who were engaged in semi-structured audio-taped interviews. Documents about higher education (ministry, university and student union) were consulted to gain insight into the crisis. Contextual observations and participant observations at meetings also informed the research. Data were analyzed using the method of constant comparative analysis. The study reveals that ZANU PF authoritarian nationalism is exerted through the centralized power invested in the vice-chancellor’s office and the subsequent random use of campus and state security forces against students and faculty. Privatization of amenities and dollarization were observed to be the two main neoliberal policy measures contributing towards the crisis at the institution. High levels of student poverty, massive faculty exodus from the institution and violence characterized the impact of ZANU PF nationalism and neoliberal globalization. The study demonstrated how ZANU PF nationalism and neoliberal globalization are contributing towards the crisis at the institution and recolonizing the people of Zimbabwe. The conclusions derived from this research, though specific to the University of Zimbabwe, have implications for other institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe and in other African countries experiencing similar challenges.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
1. Hwami,M. (2011). Understanding the crisis in higher education in Zimbabwe: Critical Explorations. In D. Kapoor (Ed.). Critical perspectives on neoliberal globalization, development and education in Africa and Asia. (17 pages) publication in press.

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