School of Education

Sexagenarian Student Graduates with PhD in Education

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I was at the crossroads on whether or not to embark on a PhD at the age of 60, says Dr Morgen Mabuto.

‘However, I then realised that doing the PhD would enable me not only to rediscover and energise myself, but inspire other aged learners to self-actualise too!’

Mabuto graduated with a PhD in Education from UKZN.

Armed with three decades of extensive engagement in adult and continuing education, as a learner, lecturer and field practitioner, Mabuto chose to explore the forms of enactment educators use. He analysed how they deploy the enactments and why they enact teaching and learning in their particular ways in the Non-Formal Education Policy (NFEP) programmes at selected schools in the Masvingo District of Zimbabwe.

In his exploratory study, Mabuto discovered that educators lacked clarity on the forms of enactments to be employed for driving Non-Formal Education’s (NFE) teaching and learning. ‘Educators were not well versed in the discipline’s technical, pedagogic and content knowledge, which should enlighten them about particular forms of enactments and how best to deliver NFE teaching and learning,’ he said.

‘Two government ministries were simultaneously influencing teaching and learning in the NFEP school-model, leading to bouts of uncertainty among educators about the identity of the curriculum-in-use, thereby validating the engagement of a process of curriculum integration.’

Mabuto believes his research will provide accurate information to guide government in reforming the existing school model on the enactment of teaching and learning of NFE policy programmes. The alternate school model’s curriculum will empower the community and educators alike, to address the socio-economic development needs of communities, more efficiently and effectively.

His research will also provide information for the development of educators, who champion teaching and learning, and whose fount is the NFE discipline’s technical, pedagogic and content knowledge (TPACK). By upscaling the relevance of NFE policy programmes, the government and donor funds may become available to sustain Zimbabwe’s NFEP’s school model programmes.

At the time of his studies, Mabuto battled soaring inflation in Zimbabwe while trying to raise funds for his research. Travel to South Africa became almost impossible due to high exchange rates, and the shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe. The cost of electricity was exorbitant with an intermittent supply of a daily maximum of four hours. Mabuto resorted to paying neighbours who had generators for charging his second-hand laptop and for emailing documents.

‘On one trip to seek supervision in South Africa, a body search by police of bus passengers uncovered an alleged armed robber. For some of the passengers, that was the journey’s end, as they were wary about continuing with the trip. For me, it was aluta continua  – I resolved to proceed with the trip on the premise that I had not yet found what I was looking for, namely the PhD,’ said Mabuto.

He plans to continue to conduct research that develops the scholarship of teaching and learning, researching, and publishing articles, with the goal of becoming a professor.

Mabuto is thankful for the support from his wife Irene, family, friends, and his supervisors, Professor Simon Bheki Khoza and Professor Philip Higgs.

His son, Kudakwashe, added, ‘What an achievement and what an honour for me to look up to you as my father, the one who doesn’t just quit; the man who does not allow circumstances to hold him back. I know that it has been a tough journey with many lessons learned in and out of the classroom. At the end of the day, “the Fish eagle” (our totem), is flying high in the sky in celebration. To say I am proud is an understatement.’

A close friend and fellow academic, Professor Sambulo Ndlovu, remarked: ‘I congratulate you (Mabuto) and encourage you to continue applying your mind to the development of education at large and to non-formal education in particular, through research.’

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