Impact of COVID-19 on Zimbabwe’s state universities’ education system. Case of Tourism and Hospitality Management Students
Keywords:COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, tourism and hospitality students, online learning and hybrid learning
The outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020 across the globe led to massive disturbances in the higher and tertiary education system. As a way of keeping pace with the needs of the key stakeholder viz students, institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe adopted online teaching and learning methodologies. This study examines the impact of Covid-19 on Zimbabwe’s State Universities with special reference to tourism and hospitality students. A qualitative research design was used for the study. WhatsApp focus groups and telephone interviews were also used to collect the data from the respondents. The findings revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic adversely affected the education of most students at state universities. The adoption of online learning by state universities led to the production of ‘half-baked’ graduates since some of the modules needed adequate time for hands-on practice. Most of the respondents pointed out they had a negative attitude towards online learning as they faced financial challenges to purchase laptops, internet data bundles, failure to perform other tasks such as bed making, baking and cooking online, lack or poor internet infrastructure, inadequate training and retraining on the use of online applications. Some students lost momentum during the academic journey while others ended up dropping out of the university system and/or deferring their studies. Lack of detachment between students and universities was also reported. The study, therefore recommends the use of hybrid learning for practical modules to achieve high-quality results and produce graduates that are relevant to the industry.