A crumbling education system
- Over 90% of children in Zimbabwe are not attending school
- School closures since October 2008 and reopening is not expected for months
- Reported upcoming fees will be charged in US dollars and have sky rocketed by over 100%
- Teaching staff is on indefinite strike because they are underpaid
- Shortage of learning materials with a student to text book ratio of 50 to 1
- Universities have been closed since October 2008.
- Educated Horizon helping to narrow the education gap
Over 90% of students in Zimbabwe are not attending school because most schools have been closed since October 2008. Teachers have been on indefinite strike demanding higher wages in foreign currency (US dollars). Salaries of ZWD $30 billion (£10) per month are not enough to sustain the most basic standard of living. Average prices of goods and services are highly inflated and ordinary civil servants like teachers are some of the most affected. A 2litre cooking oil bottle costs £5, a kilogram of meat at £3 and £2 for a loaf of bread.
There are reports that UNICEF has offered to pay teachers in foreign currency but this has not been accepted yet as changes to the civil service pay structure are very difficult. Soldiers and the police force cannot be left out.
Apart from the lack of teachers, reported school fees for the year will be charged in US$ ranging from $50 to $1000 per term. Over 80% of the parents cannot afford these ridiculous fees and school children will just have to stay at home if nothing is done to change the situation.
Poor national exam preparations
National exams are usually a key event in school diaries but not in 2008. With no teachers to guide them through this demanding and very important time, students are expected to record the lowest national exam pass rate ever. It's reported that the scripts are not yet marked, as the responsible staff have not turned up for work because they are broke.
"The writing of public exams during the 2008 October-December period was just mere fulfilment of routine, an exercise in futility because there were no preparations on the part of the teachers and students."Tongai Mushangwe (Educated Horizon Project manager)
Major tertiary education institutions are closed as well. The once well-respected University of Zimbabwe has seen its lecturers escape to neighbouring countries in search for greener pastures leaving students to fend for themselves. The basic infrastructure at universities has deteriorated and this will obviously affect the quality of students released into industry.
Social and economic impact
"The crumbling of Zimbabwe's education system is a generational problem that is not only evident today but will be felt in years to come when current students reach adulthood. An educated generation has higher constructive values and is less likely to resort to mob culture, which leads to all sorts of antisocial behaviour."
Herbert Dzinotyiweyi (Educated Horizon UK volunteer)
The main negative effects include the following:
- An increasing number of school leavers without certificates.
- A huge increase in unemployment.
- Crime and prostitution to secure survival.
- Social exclusion - "The poor" remain poor and uneducated.
- Low enrolment in tertiary institutions.
- A low and poor quality labour supply for the local and national industry.
Zimbabwe is currently in a dire economic mess mainly characterised by a runaway inflation in thousands, mass migration of skilled labour force, closure of key companies that employ millions and a critical food shortage. A paralysed education system is unwelcome and its after effects will not only worsen the current situation in Zimbabwe but weaken any hope of a national recovery.
"Regardless of the current situation, Zimbabweans have so far maintained a decent and stable social structure because of a largely educated population. This may change when the present generation that is receiving little or poor education is finally released into the world."Dr Alex Magaisa (University of Kent)
Educated Horizon's response
In response to deteriorating education standards in Zimbabwe, Educated Horizon has helped a lot of children through its network of volunteers.
- Paying school fees for disadvantaged children.
- Monitoring their academic progress and providing them with learning materials to help them excel in their studies.
- Helping schools in the provision of guidance and counselling sessions to pupils.
Help children in Zimbabwe with
- Science laboratory equipment, computers
Please call 020 7099 5703 and help us make a difference