HomeEditorial CommentEditor's Memo:Education now for the elite

Editor’s Memo:Education now for the elite

Nevanji Madanhire
Social media has been awash with posts by parents of the result slips of their children showing all the distinctions they got at school-leaving Ordinary and Advanced examination levels. But all this shows a totally wrong picture of our education system. Our education is far from the A-grades being displayed; the true picture is that the majority of our children are out of school and have been condemned to a life of penury and servitude.

What is obvious in the social media posts is that all the parents  including politicians across the divide  showing off their children’s results sent their children to private schools. No one should begrudge them for that but the posts revealed something so grave it must be addressed urgently before Zimbabwe’s education system is “segregated” like it was before independence.

During the colonial era education was like this: White children went to private schools which did not accept black children and had world-class facilities; black children in townships went into government schools; and in rural areas children went  to “schools”  called “schools” simply because there was a “teacher” and a blackboard. The teachers in the rural “schools” were paid by missionaries, hence most “schools” in Gutu were affiliated to Gutu Mission; while most in Chivi were affiliated to Chibi Mission etc.

To their credit the missionaries produced most of the illustrious leaders we have today in both politics and business. Many education analysts say, “Anyone who is anybody in Zimbabwe today is a product of mission schools.”

There was an education revolution after independence. Universal free primary education was introduced and secondary education was made available to anyone who needed it. Secondary schools were built everywhere and often poor parents used their labour to pay fees. Many political and business leaders today are products of these rural secondary schools called “upper-tops? 

Zimbabwe’s education revolution became the envy of the world; at one time the country boasted almost universal literacy — 98% of Zimbabweans could read and write. But no more!

The education system has gone back to its colonial shape  it is now for the elite. Whereas the elite in colonial times were the privileged whites, today the elite comprise the black politicians and business people. The mission schools have privatised too and now are only for the rich. That’s not a call to begrudge the rich but to say our government has let this happen under their watch.

For many reasons, including the Covid-19 pandemic, many children are not in school. Only the children of those who can raise up to US$3 000 every three months are still in school. When schools eventually open after the government has assessed the Covid situation and concluded that it is safe to open them, the children will be lagging so far behind their privileged contemporaries they won’t be able to catch up.

The schools that have remained open also happen to have modern facilities that make learning easier. They have computerised world-class libraries where they can “google” anything to help them do their prep; and teachers are always available to coach them how to approach examination questions.

The children in other schools have no access to these facilities and will not have any chance to cope with the work that prepares them for the exams.

The result is that two classes of Zimbabweans have been created; the educated and the uneducated. The consequences are going to be dire.

There has been created a whole class of unemployable youths who will turn to drugs and crime to survive it all. The effects of drugs and the crime will be felt most by the educated elite.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

NewsDay Zimbabwe will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.