Sun setting on Zimbabwe’s education.

The once burning fire of Zimbabwe’s education is slowly but surely dying out. Each and every
 passing day darkens the dark faces of the general populace in Zimbabwe. Hope for a better
 future fades with passage of time and the evident collapse of the system.

Upon attaining independence in 1980, remakeable moves were made in availing education to all Zimbabweans regardless of creed or color. The Rhodesian streamlining system was replaced by the new paradigm which set a quest for success in people. Education was and is still seen as the tool that can be used to crush the chains of poverty and that is why the response from the general populace has been overwhelming. Many schools, colleges and universities were built and the government siphoned  funds into the department for this cause. Expatriates educators helped in imparting knowledge and Cuba training programmes were put in place to make sure the end product of our education system is competitive and aligned to the demands of the job market. That earned Zimbabwe the torchbearers accolade and the country’s education system was rated number one in Africa for several years. For sure anyone who sailed through this rigorous journey got rewarded in the end-a good decent and well compensated for job. Good were those days and lucky are the old who went to school during these days.

 The arena has changed today. People’s quest for knowledge is there. The motivation –both intrinsic and extrinsic –is there but reciprocity from the government is conscupiously amiss. Problems have rocked the system and the poorest and vulnerable in society are bearing the blunt.

Schools have turned into campaign grounds. Teachers spent time making students cram long poems in support of politicians-time supposedly earmarked for learning and personal development of the child. Failure to do this results in the school being labeled and sometimes extremely sanctioned by the political parties.

The best teachers have vacated Zimbabwe in search of greener pastures. This stemmed from poor remuneration for a long time. Those who remained behind are the few holding on hoping for change, the old and less adventurous or the poorest that do not have anywhere to start from. Armed with the best qualifications the best qualified teachers have penetrated into the international markets in countries like the U.K, Australia, New Zealand the U.S.A and South Africa where teachers are better compensated. What has been the implication back home? A huge vacuum was created which had to be quickly filled up. In a desperate move to fill the gap, the government embarked on fast tracking the teacher training programme and the entrance requirement were lowered to include ridiculous aspects like political affiliations. The half baked educator now stands in front of empty tabulla rassas-the children-who are innocent helpless souls and are the hope for a better life from the poverty stricken families’ where they are members to.
Strikes are the order of the day in Zimbabwe. Strikes by teachers cripple the attempts to improve the country through education. Whilst this is a fight for survival, and the cause is justified, the school children suffer the most. They lose a lot in terms of academic time. The little available resources are vandalized further aggravating their predicament. In a bid to calm this storm, the department of education has introduced the incentive system where the parents have to provide extra money to be given to teachers as incentives. While from one perspective this is good in bringing decency to the salaries of teachers, still there are challenges. This system is further drawing more from the dwindling coffers of the poor families. It is also bring in a gap in the education system amongst teachers as there is no uniformity and policy guideline in its application. While the elitist and urban schools are better able to pay the incentive and attract the few best teachers, the rural schools are in the deep end of the doldrums and so the rural child remains unaided. This policy is quite controversial and topical.
 In a nutshell, what tomorrow holds for Zimbabweans we cannot predict. While we all like a harmonious society with improved spheres of human life, the pointers on the ground in Zimbabwe spell disaster. We just pray for well wishers to keep on assisting the poor Zimbabweans so that they continue to breathe and struggle to get education until such a time when change for the better comes.       

About Author:
Graduated from Mutare teachers college (1997-1999)-Diploma in education
Zimbabwe open university- (2000-2004)-Bsc Geography
University of south Africa-Hons Enviromnental Sciences

Taught in Zimbabwe for nine years.Was teaching Geography and English
Advanced levels.Has been teaching in South Africa for three years now

 


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