Dr. Innocent Tonderai Mahiya graduated with a PhD in Sociology in 2015 at Rhodes University in South Africa. When he opens up about life that has not always been rosy, his confidence is clear in his eyes and in his voice.
For his PhD, he received a scholarship for lecturers at Women’s University in Africa (WUA), based in Zimbabwe and sponsored by the African Capacity Building Foundation. Ten full-time lecturers at the university are beneficiaries of the scholarship, with three having already graduated and seven expected to complete their studies in 2017..
Born 31 years ago to peasant farmers in rural Mazowe-about 40 kilometers to the North of Harare and raised by maternal grandparents in rural Gutu about 250 kilometers to the South of Harare, he never thought of attaining a PhD even in his wildest of dreams as he herded cattle while attending primary school about 10 kilometers from home. But after enrolling at the University of Zimbabwe and obtaining an undergraduate degree, Mahiya was admitted at the same university as a teaching assistant while doing his master’s degree..
After completing his master’s degree, he got a job as a lecturer at WUA, where doors started opening for him. “But the money I was getting as a lecturer wasn’t enough to fund my PhD studies,” he said. “So I was fortunate that when I joined WUA, they had a scholarship program for capacity building for their lecturers, and I was one of the beneficiaries.”.
“I got my scholarship in 2012, when I enrolled at Rhodes University in South Africa. Rhodes University is expensive, but it is an international university with high standards. And through the scholarship from ACBF, I managed to pay my fees. So the first benefit was an opportunity to continue working while pursuing my studies.”.
Since completing his PhD, he has been engaged by several institutions both locally and internationally including the University of California to lead research. He is quick to point out that this would not have been possible without the ACBF grant to WUA..
Lecturers whose PhD studies are sponsored under the ACBF scholarship are bonded to WUA for 50 percent of their study duration..
WUA has 32 full-time lecturers, with only nine PhD holders (three of them sponsored by ACBF), forcing it to hire part-time PhD holders from other universities to deliver lectures. Seven staff members who are also under the ACBF scholarship are expected to complete their studies in 2017. Yet, the Zimbabwe government has implored universities to ensure that all lecturers are at least PhD holders by 2017. “This increase goes a long way in WUA’s achieving the desired ratio of PhD holders in a university,” said WUA–ACBF project coordinator William David Mapani..