Dr Faith Mkwananzi is Senior Researcher with the HEHD Research group. Her research centers on higher education, mobility, and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has interests in migration, creative research methods, collaborative stakeholder engagement, and the operationalization of the capability approach.

Dr Mkwananzi has the following current and completed projects in her portfolio:

Current Projects

2021-2022, Principal Investigator: ‘International students and eLearning in South Africa.’ Funded by: SARChI Chair in Higher Education and Human Development (University of the Free State).

The study looks at African international student’s access (capabilities) to, and readiness (conversion factors) for, digital international higher education. It does this by focusing on the experiences of eLearning by international students during Covid 19. The objective of the project is to explore digital (in) equalities based on students’ unique contextual factors. Data gathered will be essential for universities in addressing the current and future teaching and learning needs of international students, but with implications also for national students. The research will also be relevant to prospective students, funding bodies, and practitioners interested in improving higher education for international and national students.

July 2020–June 2021, Principal Investigator: ‘Youth agency, civic engagement, and sustainable development: Ideas for Southern Africa’.

Funded by: UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) ECR funding of Changing the Story - Network Plus (University of Leeds).

The project is a collaboration between University of the Free State, University of Pretoria, Midlands State University (Zimbabwe), Sheffield University (UK),  Lancaster University (UK), working with the Bishop Simeon Trust (Johannesburg) and Basilwizi Trust (Zimbabwe). The aim of the project is to share, reflect on, and embed findings from Changing the Story’s (Phase One) five projects in Southern Africa. The project also seeks to establish and strengthen regional channels of engagement between youth and various stakeholders. Further, the project is interested in consolidating ideas for future engagement essential for national and regional progression on youth development. These strategies are necessary for youth engagement and reducing inequality in the region.

2019-Current, Researcher: ‘Mapping the aspirations and educational needs of 'out-of-school' girls in Zimbabwe’.

Funded by: UKAid through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) Girls’ Education Challenge initiative led by Plan International. This research strand is led by The Open University (OU).

The project is a research strand within SAGE (Supporting Adolescent Girl’s Education) and utilizes a longitudinal, digital, transformative-storytelling approach to map out-of-school girls’ aspirations. The SAGE programme aims to support girls acquire foundational skills and to address the complex and interdependent barriers to accessing education. The research works with girls from rural Zimbabwe who do not go to school, exploring and mapping aspiration horizons as they work through a community education programme.

2020-2021, Assistant Researcher: ‘Decolonising Education for Peace in Africa (DEPA) - Zimbabwe Strand’

The project is led by the Open University with the Zimbabwe research strand run by Midlands State University.

The project seeks to explore the context of peace in everyday settings in selected rural areas in Zimbabwe by creating a space to engage in peace education and peace building through the use of locally relevant approaches. Using creative, participatory methods, the project asks: how is peace understood and practiced in everyday lives in these communities? How is peace taught in the classroom? The project collaborates with local organisations such as the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) - an organisation involved in peace building initiatives in Zhombe district, and the Batonga Craft Centre and Batonga Museum in Binga.  The objective of the project is to develop educational materials that can be used in peace education initiatives within and beyond the country.

Completed Project

March 2019 – November 2019, Co-I: ‘Street art to promote representation and epistemic justice among marginalized rural Zimbabwean youth.’

Funded by: UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) ECR funding of Changing the Story - Network Plus (University of Leeds).

The project was a collaboration between the University of the Free State, Lancaster University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe), Basilwizi Youth Trust (Zimbabwe), and Batonga Community Museum (Zimbabwe). In the project, youth used Graffiti-on Board to promote representation and epistemic justice among marginalized rural Zimbabwean youth. The aim was to encourage social cohesion and address epistemic injustices by providing a platform to youth to voice their aspirations and values through an arts-based method.

For a publication from the project, see:  Marovah, T. & Mkwananzi, F. (2020). Graffiti as a Participatory Method Fostering Epistemic Justice and Collective Capabilities among Rural Youth: A Case Study in Zimbabwe.  In, M, Walker. & A, Boni. (Eds) ‘Participatory Research, Capabilities and Epistemic Justice’. Palgrave. 215-241

To learn more about Faith and her publications, visit

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