The serendipities of the covid-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe’s higher education institutions: A multiple case analysis.
This paper unearths the serendipities of the covid-19 pandemic in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) of Zimbabwe. While acknowledging the unprecedented challenges of the covid-19 pandemic, and the ravaging effects it has brought on economies around the globe, the paper argues that there are notable positives that have been realised through the pandemic. To establish these fortunate and advantageous developments brought about by the covid-19 pandemic, a multiple qualitative case analysis of secondary data from seven universities in Zimbabwe was conducted. The universities are comprised of five public and two private universities. The data sources included university websites and repositories as well as government publications on the covid-19 pandemic. Findings of the study revealed that Zimbabwe’s HEIs realised certain fortunes which fulfilled the Education 5.0 curriculum thrust due to the covid-19 pandemic. One of the serendipities of the covid-19 pandemic reported in the study is that the pandemic strengthened online teaching and learning technologies and enhanced research and publication. Besides, Zimbabwe’s HEIs and industry developed a much closer and improved collaboration relationship in a bid to fight the scourge. From the study, it was also established that covid-19 serendipities were a conduit to innovation enhancement, achievement of the industrialisation agenda, and bridging of the gap between HEIs and communities. Further to this, the pandemic brought about brand improvement and institutional visibility, fulfilment and motivation of employees derived from the room accorded to creative thinking and saving of employee operational costs as a result of working from home. This study, therefore, views the covid-19 pandemic not from a detrimental perspective but as having introduced a new lease of life into Zimbabwe’s Higher Education Institutions’ Education 5.0 Agenda, which has far-reaching effects on the future, and even into post-covid-19 period. The pandemic made HEIs realise and exploit their potential and capabilities which were lying dormant and became enablers in the attainment of Education 5.0. However, future research on the serendipities of the covid-19 pandemic can be in the form of field research aimed at understanding the perceptions and feelings of lecturers in HEIs on their employers’ acknowledgement and recognition of their contribution in line with reciprocity theory.