Dr Hope Sadza, Founder and Chancelor of Women University of Zimbabwe

Women of substance - Sadza making dreams come true for women
Friday, 07 July 2006 02:00
Munyaradzi Wasosa
IT has never been easy for the girl child to make it in the conventional "men's world". This
woman has been through it all, and the adage that "success is not a tree to be climbed with
one's hands in the pocket" rings true of Dr Hope Sadza, the woman at the helm of Women's
University in Zimbabwe.

Born in a family of six children to Mr Bakasa, a businessman who owned a fleet of taxis and Mrs
Bakasa, who was a teacher, Sadza says she grew up in a "very loving environment which I
think contributed to my love for people".
Says Sadza: "My mother always used to tease me about my hobby of collecting friends."
From a tender age, Sadza always wanted to be a teacher, and it did not take her long to realise
her dream.

"I did my primary education at a school that still exists called Chirodzo Primary School.
Incidentally after my teacher training I went back and taught at that school," Sadza said.
"I attended Goromonzi Secondary School and then went on to Waddilove for my teacher
training. My first love is teaching so I went further and did teacher training to teach secretaries in
She went abroad to further her studies.
"I then went to the University of Missouri in Columbia in the United States of America where I
did my first degree (BSc) and second degree (masters in Public Administration)."
"When I came back I studied for my PhD with the University of Zimbabwe. I also taught for a
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Friday, 07 July 2006 02:00
while at the Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka, Zambia."
Her passion for teaching extended to assisting those financially unable to attain education.

"My dream has always been to help, particularly in the teaching field, those not economically
endowed. I have always felt for the downtrodden, those who, for some reason or other, have
missed out on school," Sadza says.
"I feel that women, especially in Africa, have a raw deal. In our household every child, male or
female, was treated the same but I watched with concern how other girls had to do chores and
drop out of school because parents preferred to invest in male children, education-wise."
Says Sadza: "That really hurt me and gave me the urge to want to help in changing that culture
and offer the girl-child and woman the opportunity to be enlightened and educated."
Sadza served in the public service for at least ten years before retiring to start the women's
"I was introduced to commissions when I was appointed chairperson of the Parastatals
Commission that is now defunct and then I served in the Public Service Commission for ten
years," Sadza said.
"I took an early retirement to realise my dream to start the Women's University with my
co-founder, Fay Chung."
The Women's University offers courses for mature women from the ages of 25 to 60, who
missed out on school, either because of lack of finance or because they got married and were
engaged in rearing families.
"We offer women a 'second opportunity' as we call it, to go back to school away from the
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Friday, 07 July 2006 02:00
ordinary university where a woman would feel like she is attending with her own child," the
veteran educationist said.

The Women's University is "user friendly" because women can attend in the evenings, on
weekends and during holidays and does not interfere much with family concerns.
There is also ample opportunity to network with other like-minded women.
The vision of empowering women is critical to their lives and that of their families, especially
Before the university opened, research was done to establish the most critical areas, and came
up with four main fields namely:
Women are the tillers of the land, yet because of lack of education in that field, they remain
Reproductive health
Women are not in control so there needs to be some formal training so that they can fill the gap
between the nurse and the doctor.
Gender story
Women should be taught at an early stage the technicalities of gender issues and the
sociological connotations.
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Friday, 07 July 2006 02:00

This aims at empowering women who have become stuck in middle management by virtue of
being female. This is a popular course. The aim is for women to rise above diploma level and
get to the highest level, which is degree level.
This is Dr Hope Sadza's dream unfolding.
Besides her busy schedule at the university, Sadza also sits on a number of boards. She chairs
Rufaro Marketing and the National Art Gallery, to mention but a few.
She loves reading, knitting, cooking - but hates house work and she makes no excuses for that.
She loves travelling but at the moment she is unable to do so because of her commitment to the
university. Whenever she travelled in the past, Sadza was always struck by the plight of women
which she says is identical in Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Sadza says the story of women is always about lots of brains but lack of opportunity.
Her appeal is if you have any books, second hand computers which can be upgraded, they are
welcome at the Women's University.
Sadza is married and her husband is the chief executive officer of Premier Medical Aid Society.
She has two children - a son aged 23 and an 11-year old daughter.


Professor Hope Sadza looks beyond Zimbabwe
Hope Sadza (Pictured) is on a mission to share her dream with all African women. As founder and Vice Chancellor of the Women’s University of Africa (WUA), she now wants to roll out her successful programmes beyond Zimbabwe and Zambia and in to Namibia and Malawi.

“The target now is to go through the whole of Africa and pick on the women who have been left behind,” said Sadza. She is the first woman in Africa to create a tertiary institution that allows ordinary women to advance themselves and improve their way of living.

"We call it the second opportunity university; it allows women the chance to start all over with their education. We help them achieve their dream and live a life they have always desired,” she said. WUA offers women Bachelor of Science degrees in areas of management, agriculture, entrepreneurial skills, information technology and education. The university gives a flexible schedule as women take their classes in the evening, on weekends and in block releases.

WUA has produced 1 000 graduates since its establishment in 2002. The shortest programme runs for three years with the longest taking four. It gives first preference to employed applicants aged 24 and over. The oldest student the institution has empowered so far is Tsungi Hungwe-Chimbunde, who at the age of 64 graduated after a three-year degree programme in reproductive health in 2005.

According to Sadza, students have not found problems getting employment after years of empowerment with the university. She told The Zimbabwean ***** that the expansion into Namibia and Malawi should be up and running by 2011 and 2012.

“We will sign an MOU with their universities as we have done with the University of Zambia. We propose to start with 25 students and this time these mature students will pay for themselves or can be supported by their employers,” she said.

“We currently have 20 Zambian women with us. Since we are an opportunity university accommodating married women who are also the working class with lots of responsibilities, we have given them a flexible programme that allows them to manage their social life as well. They (Zambians) are here for three months and they go back for three months. While they are in Zambia they will also be doing open distance learning with the University of Zambia, using modules prepared by WUA.”

Since there are no hostels that accommodate foreign students, the University has a house in Harare’s low density suburb of Mount Pleasant. The institution has survived on funding from African Capacity Building Foundation, with scholarships from Econet Wireless and Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Networking (ZWRCN).

African Capacity Building Foundation donated a bus to the university and has committed itself to paying tuition fees for the foreign students from Zambia. Econet funds the top 20 outstanding students, while ZWRCN caters for four of the brilliant but poor students.

“Our lecturers are committed and have a passion for working with women. Lecturers have to be people who share the same dream of empowering women because a lot of patience is needed with them.”

It is the joy she has seen in the university’s graduates during past graduation ceremonies that continues to inspire Sadza to keep working with mature women.

“When I came up with the idea of establishing a university many people asked whether as a woman I could do it. But making it this far has proved to them that it is possible not only for me as a woman but for them as well. They have come to accept that everything has a beginning,” she said.

The university has registered a total number of 1500 students. “We want to go up to 4 000 students and we need more women in areas like law and sciences, I have realized that the women who graduate become more and more hungry for education. So we have opened an MBA and Masters in Development Studies as well,” explained Sadza.

Due to the economic challenges that have faced the country in recent years, WUA have seen over 200 dropouts. “It is a sad situation that we don’t have enough scholarships, but we have tried to make it easy for our students allowing them to write the exams and pay their tuition fees on collection of their results.”

Sadza began her career as a primary school teacher, became an officer in government and ended up as a Public Service Commissioner in 1989 resigning in 2000 to open WUA. She followed her dream to attain her PhD with the University of Zimbabwe.

“Before I did my PhD, the time management was a challenge. People had suggested I go to England for my studies but I could not because I had a family to look after. Then I just thought of how many women could be in my situation,” she said.

“Women fail to get the opportunity to go to university once they get married, it is difficult for them to manage the time. But we give them education with flexible timetable. In Africa 85% of the economy is based on Agriculture and 80% of the food is produced by women. Women know how to produce food but they don’t know how to manage, process it and add value as a finished food. We want to give them the knowledge to manage business and be leaders in society.”

Sadza and WUA were awarded winner of the 2007 "Empowering Gender through Tertiary Education" Award at the International Business Women's Conference, in Washington D.C. At the Women Entrepreneurs and Achievers Network (WEAN) awards held in Lagos, Nigeria the same year; she was named Africa's most influential woman in education.

Sheila Portia Tshuma (Pictured)
Regency Casino Operations Manager, Sheila Tshuma (44), believes without the knowledge she got from the Women University in Africa she would not be where she is today.

Tshuma co-owns one of the top of the range Casinos in Zimbabwe with her husband. She was one of the pioneers of WUA, where she attained a degree in General Management in Entrepreneurial development.

“I found the programme very inspiring, the entrepreneur development programme inspires you to take up the challenge of starting your own business, you learn everything how to make a business plan and how it could fail. One of the errors some small business owners make is being everyone in their companies. You would find that in most companies the owner is the seller, the driver, the secretary and this programme just teaches one how to run a business properly by having to employ people with the right skill.

“A lot of the women we went to school with are actually running their own businesses now, I recommend that degree to anyone planning to start their own business.

“The University has given an opportunity to us mature women. When I finished my A levels I didn’t have the requirements points to go to UZ but with the opening up of the Women’s University one didn’t necessarily have to have such requirements as they only require one’s working experience.

“So I like that idea about Women University where they are saying anyone can go to University. From there on I went to Chinhoyi University to do my Masters in Strategic Management but when I compare my programme from my undergrad and postgrad, I still think I learnt more from WUA; no disrespect for Chinhoyi. It has changed my life even at a social level; you get to view everything with a critical mind.”

Tsungirirai Hungwe-Chimbunde (Pictured)
Tsungirirai Hungwe-Chimbunde (68) is a holder of BSc Honors degree in Reproductive Health and Family Sciences with Women’s University in Africa. She registered to embark in this degree at the age of 60 in 2002, the year the university was established.

She was awarded the Ndoro Shield in 2005. The Shield is awarded to the model female student who has shown the embodiment of the university values, hardworking, determination, dedication to studies and a source of inspiration to the African Women.

Chimbunde was the deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs back in 1990 and a former Deputy Minister for Health and Child Welfare.

“Anything good does not come on a silver platter, it is through determination and perseverance, which are the characteristics of an African woman,” she said.

“During our time, not many girls were accessing secondary education, let alone university education. I only enrolled for my university degree at 60. I could not do it at a tender age. Having acquired my diploma in nursing, the traditional profession for a black woman person, I got married and had three children. The marriage did not see us through our lives and we parted ways. I took responsibility to look after my three children. Then it was not easy. However, with that load I did not lose hope, deep down I had that desire to acquire a degree.

“The establishment of WUA and its target group answered my prayer. I quickly grabbed the opportunity. My grandchildren now do not have an excuse not to be graduates. All other women should know that age is just a number.

“Being educated opens someone’s mind. One is able to think outside the box, get a confidence boost and earn respect. I’m now able to express myself much better and understand issues and interpret them better. I wish I had such qualifications during my time as Minister, I always look back and say I could have done better.”


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