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    Sunday, 12 March 2017

    Farewell Professor Primrose Kurasha

    • The first female pro-Vice and Vice Chancellor in Zim
    • The mother of distance education


    HARARE – The Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), the nation of Zimbabwe and the world at large mourn the loss of an award-winning academic and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) practitioner-par-excellence, Professor Primrose Kurasha (PhD).
    Born on 2 April 1959, Professor Primrose Kurasha passed on Friday, 17 February 2017 at the Avenues Clinic. Professor Kurasha suffered from abdominal ailment since 2011. On 16 February 2017, she had an intestinal surgical operation. On Friday, 17 February 2017, her condition worsened due to pulmonary embolism. She passed on at 8pm. Professor Primrose Kurasha was buried at Glen Forest Cemetery on Monday, 20 February 2017. She is survived by her husband Professor Jemison Kurasha (Professor of Philosophy, Business and Medical Ethics) and her two daughters, Flora (27 Years, final year PhD Student in Development Economics, University of Cape Town, South Africa) and Primrose Jnr. (25 Years, an LLB graduate, University of Pretoria, South Africa).
    Professor Primrose Kurasha was a Full Professor. She was also an Honorary Professor in ODL from the Tianjin Open University of China. Her highest qualification was a PhD (1999) from the University of Potchefstroom, South Africa. She also held a Masters in Business Administration (MBA, 1987) University of Bridgeport, USA, BBS (Hons, 1981) University of Zimbabwe and a Certificate for Distance Education Practitioners – University of South Africa (UNISA, 2006)

    Her academic career spans more than 29 years, having joined the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) as an Executive Development Programme Director in the Department of Business Studies in 1998. In 1990 she lectured in the Department of Business Studies, UZ where she taught Strategic Management, Management Principles and Marketing Management. Prof Kurasha was the Acting Chairperson Department of Business Studies at the UZ from August 1999 to February 2000, before she joined the Zimbabwe Open University as Pro Vice Chancellor (Finance, Strategic Planning, Marketing and Income-Generation) in December 2000. She acted as the Vice Chancellor from June 2002 to July 2003 before she assumed the substantive post in December 2003. She made history by becoming the first female Pro-Vice Chancellor in Zimbabwe in 2000, and again the first female Vice Chancellor in Zimbabwe in 2003.

    Under her astute leadership and innovative management, the Zimbabwe Open University promoted a revolution in education just like the land reform promoted a revolution in agriculture in the early 2000s. Open and Distance learning has become a buzz word in Zimbabwe and the pole bearer being none other than the indomitable Professor of ODL, Professor Primrose Kurasha. She was a force to reckon with and not easily intimidated. She would bulldoze her way through any situation or obstacle. She cleared, levelled, and reshaped the contours around formal education with a single aim to afford everyone an education. And surely as per her promise at the inaugural Zimbabwe Open University Graduation Ceremony in 2003, that 'munda wangu i ZOU and I am going to work on that plot with all my soul, body and mind. More than 30 000 graduates passed through her hands.
    She was the mother of ODL in Zimbabwe, in Africa and in the world. She breastfed her child from birth, but never weaned it.

    She is credited for setting up the 1st University Quality Assurance Directorate in Zimbabwe in 2007, which subsequently led her to be appointed on the Advisory Board of the Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA).

    Like her husband said at her funeral, Professor Kurasha was not a gate-keeper. She did not want all the glory to be hers; neither did she want to be the 'only' educated and informed person. She believed that everyone could make it in life. She believed information shared would change the world! During the Annual ZOU Vice Chancellor Research Seminars and Higher Degrees Directorate (HDD) workshops, which she spearheaded at ZOU, she would participate vividly and selflessly. In fact, she was taken ill on her way to an HDD workshop in
    Farewell Professor Primrose KurashaMutare, where she was going to share her wisdom with students and advise them on how best to proceed with their Doctoral studies.
    Primrose was persecuted five times, and five times, she came out as clean as a whistle. She was not deterred by obstacles - no matter how big or small.
    She touched prominent lives, including Cabinet Ministers who were conferred with Doctor of Philosophy degrees by ZOU, that is, Joram Gumbo, Obert Mpofu and Mike Bimha and several Members of Parliament who have also graduated from ZOU. She touched the heart of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who declared that Prof Kurasha be honoured with a State-assisted funeral for her sacrifices in educating the nation.
    Her impact on the world stage will be sadly missed. The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), in its condolence message, could not have put it better when they said that "her commitment in mobilising member institutions and African countries and governments towards entrenching ODL as reputable, functional and sustainable educational system in the whole of the African continent will forever be remembered by all member institutions of the ICDE, including NOUN".
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