THE absence of a university in Mashonaland East is coming to an end following a land deal between UMAA Institute and Marondera Municipality.
Report by Jairos Saunyama
Students from the province had to endure difficulties, paying huge sums of money for accommodation and food at institutions such as Midlands State University, National University of Science and Technology and the Great Zimbabwe University, far away from their homes.
But the construction of UMAA University in Marondera could be a relief to many prospective university students in Marondera and other surrounding areas.
A number of people interviewed expressed joy that the idea of a university had come at the right time when most students were finding it difficult to secure places in other universities which were giving first preference to local residents first.
“Maybe it was because of my low marks, but I think I deserved a place at a local university, but all was in vain.
“I travelled from university to university in search of a place and finally I had to give up. I later enrolled at the Red Cross where I am training as a nurse aid. But I hope the establishment of the university will be good news to most prospective university students,” said Nyarai Matsine from Nyameni suburb in Marondera.
Another student Lloyd Tandavani from Wedza echoed the same sentiments.
“I later enrolled at a local agricultural college because I had no other option. I wanted to study something else, but now I am doing agriculture. But this next generation will benefit from the UMAA project and will be able to pursue their dreams,” he said.
However, there seems to be a ray of hope as UMAA Institute has embarked on a mission to construct a university that is expected to be completed in five years’ time. The time span seems to be long, but the university will be a pride of the province where students from remote areas of Mutoko, Mudzi, Uzumba, Maramba, Pfungwe and Wedza among other areas will have something to smile at.
In an interview with Cleopas Kundiona, the man behind the construction of the university, he said it was his dream to establish such an institution that will cater for students in the province as well as the whole of Southern African region.
“What started as a dream is now coming to fruition and in the next few years students will have something to smile at.
“This province will have its first tertiary institution that will help them to achieve their dreams. Moreover, this will be the first university from an indigene which means it is meant to empower the African child.
“This university is going to built in phases. There will be an academic section that will house Forms 1 to 6, and then there is a diploma section and of course the degree programmes section.
“All these will on the same roof,” he said.
Kundiona said the whole project will be through in five years time.
“All things being equal by 2017, the whole project will be through,” he said.
He added that the campus will accommodate students from the sub-Saharian Africa.
“The institution will also enroll foreigners especially from the Sadc region. We are not limited to Mashonaland East or Zimbabwe only,” said Kundiona.
Kundiona, who is also the founder and director of several UMAA said the university will be enrolling 1 500 students in its first year of operation.
“We will be accommodating an average of 1 500 undergraduates in our first year of operation and the number will be increasing as time goes on,” he said.
In an interview with parents in Marondera, most of them expressed gratitude over the construction of the university.
“This a commendable move made by UMAA. Our children will be guaranteed of a bright future. The future generation will have something for themselves in their own backyard,” said Thelma Shoni.
Another parent Masimba Hunda echoed the same sentiments and added that the institution will help a lot in creating employment in the province.
“Apart from our children benefiting from it, the institution will go a long way in creating employment for other people in this area.”
Marondera mayor Farai Nyandoro hailed UMAA institute for the move and said the construction of the institution will also add value to the infrastructure development in Marondera Town.
“This town does not have much as far infrastructure is concerned and if the project is completed then value is added to our town,” he said. Interestingly Marondera which is the capital of Mashonaland East Province lacks infrastructure and the completion of the project will bring glamour to the quite town.