PROSPECTIVE students are shunning local schools and tertiary institutions in their thousands, opting to study in South Africa despite government’s efforts to increase the number of educational institutions across the country.
The Zimbabwe Independent this week observed long queues at the South African embassy in Harare, with some of the prospective students saying they have been camping there for days in the hope of submitting their applications for study permits.
Officials are reportedly processing 150 applications per day, an increase from 100 during the same period last year.
Some of the students who spoke to this paper said the lure of better quality education, greater diversity of degree programmes and higher chances of securing employment upon completion of studies are some of the pull factors they prefer South African universities.
“There is only a limited range of degree programmes in Zimbabwe, which is why South Africa is a better destination,” said Mary Robertson, a 23-year-old Bio-kinetics student at the University of Pretoria.
“For instance, degrees such as Human Movement Science, Sports Science and Bio-kinetics are not offered here, neither are there registered companies in which one can do internship during study,” she said.
After Independence in 1980, Zimbabwe made tremendous strides in its education system especially in establishing many schools and universities. There was only one university, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) at Independence, a figure which has since grown to more than 10 countrywide.
However, there has been a decline in the quality of education offered, specifically in the tertiary sector.
The once prestigious UZ is still offering degree programmes such as Bachelor of Arts General, which cannot even qualify one for post-graduate study.
A parent accompanying her son at the embassy, who refused to be named, said: “Most of the leaders of this country send their children to study abroad which suggests that they themselves do not have faith in local institutions; so why should the public settle for the UZ?”
Resorting to staying in South Africa is not only confined to tertiary students, as 15-year-old Elvin Chiradza also waited patiently in the long queue to apply for a study permit after being awarded a cricket scholarship to study and play cricket at North Wood High School in Durban.