This week I will attempt to discuss the crisis of unaffordable tuition fees which the NEC tour across the country last week emphasised to me, and that it is a crisis we must address and address now. This is a crisis which has seriously weakened the students and poses a big challenge to the family of our Union, as well as destroy the hopes and dreams of many of the finest brains of this country of our generation and those to follow. I therefore update you on the challenges and success that we have registered in executing our CONGRESS mandate anchored towards redefining and entrenching a new political culture in pursuit of the students revolution.
Restrictive tuition fees
My fellow students, it has become a chorus among ourselves that the tuition fees structure that characterises the regime of our fees at our respective Universities and other institutions have become so astronomical to levels beyond the reach of the majority of us, given the paltry salaries that our parents and guardians are receiving from the same government that is charging these fees. It goes without say that students can hardly afford the US$404 to US$900 demanded by universities and colleges across faculties for reasons that the same government knows pretty well, not withstanding prohibitive attachment fees for those on attachment and teaching practice.
If a spade is to be called a spade, my observation cdes, is that Education in Zimbabwe has become more expensive, unaffordable and discriminatory (with the inception of the Inclusive government) since independence with the highest numbers of dropouts having been recorded. What boggles our mind is that the beneficiaries of the once efficient government scheme, learn now and pay later scheme like the DPM AGO Mutambara, Chinamasa, Dinha, Minister of Finance Biti, are at the helm of our government, and attempting to deny us the chance they got themselves.
Further to that, we have those that attained their academic qualifications during the colonial system, with the chancellor of all state Universities boasting having many degree qualifications, some of which we are told were attained while in prison. How therefore can, the same self acclaimed chancellor and his new found friends Mr PM and DPM explain today why the innocent students in independent Zimbabwe, under a black national leadership, who are not in any prison fail to access the same basic standard? The same government made an undertaking in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that it will seek among other things, to provide education for all by the year 2015. We all stand to be informed on whether there is another year 2015 coming after the one which is five years away? The 2000 education for all has turned into a nightmare. On the same note, the MDC was busy promising free primary education for all and affordable state funded higher and tertiary education if it gets into government. We equally stand to be told whether the MDC will be in some government which is not this one.
The reason why I say this cdes is for us to understand that we are the first victims of this marriage between ZANU-PF and the MDCs, manifesting itself in the total neglect, given the deaf ear that turns to our voice and the blind eye given to our demonstrations and protests under NACAPEZ. My calling to your attention therefore, cdes, is for us to engage each other meaningfully and decide on how to actively resolve against this government that has auctioned our natural and inalienable right to education, with the sons and daughters of power sharks from across the political divide automatically becoming the highest bidders while the majority of us sons and daughters of the peasantry falters.
Honestly, the NEC of ZINASU is seriously engaged in robust and vibrant debate and consultations with students & have already intensified on what exactly should be our fundamental basis of reaction to the unpopular cadetship scheme imposed by the government as a conditional remedy for those that cant raise the unrealistic, devilish fees. While primary indications are to the effect that nearly 10% of the students have benefited from the scheme from about 40% who applied for it, indications are that students have rejected the scheme as another ESAP but this time in the education system and from, not the IMF and World Bank but our own government.
This is because it is an imposition upon the students, a blue print which did not offer students an opportunity to input in the policy making process hence inconsistent with the CONGRESS Resolution Article 5, that government should work towards a genuine people driven policy making process that does not isolate or discriminate the views of the students and youth in general. In this light there is general consensus on the following ills of the scheme;
(a) That it is discriminatory along political lines, with those sympathetic to ZANUPF getting all the favours while prominent students activists from ZINASU have been totally denied access to the scheme.
(b) That the process of accessing application forms demands a lot of money which most deserving beneficiaries can not afford, hence this forms should been availed on line.
(c) That the conditions set up under the whole scheme are unfriendly and enslaving on the part of government hence the scheme should be reviewed to suit the circumstances of the students as well.
(d) That it is the responsibility of the government of Zimbabwe to fund higher and tertiary education in partial fulfilment of its mandate to ensure social service delivery.
For the benefit of our young fellows who have just been admitted into our institutions, the cadetship programme is not an act of compassionate as Nyagura and his lieutenants would want us to believe by lying through the media that ZINASU is telling students to refuse free money from the government under the scheme. In fact, the regime of Mugabe destroyed the whole fabric of the education system and reduced the students to a desperate lot, so that they would be forced to support ZANU-PF by undertaking to be sustained under the partisan scheme.
Now, nothing has really changed as far as the scheme is concerned except that some misguided elements in the MDC now support it, in the hope that students will blow trumpets, saying that MDC in the inclusive government is making inroads in resuscitating the dilapidated sector. Fundamentally, the Union and its leadership would have expected the MDC as a strong ally of the students to move in and influence radical policy shift through the Council of Ministers and Parliament which would have seen the repeal of brutal and draconian laws that administer universities and other institutions, which have been employed to suspend and expel students leaders, reviewing downwards high tuition fees and the ultimate restoration of sanity in the sector. However, the MDC seems to have joined the same old, archaic and satanic church full of destructive tendencies manifesting through the retrogressive, anti-poor policies of Mudenge
My call therefore is for us the students to unite across political divide and call the government to account for this morass, especially given the scandals surrounding the Chiadzwa diamonds. I believe the diamonds in Chiadzwa, if put to good and proper use, they can fund education in this country and probably the national struggle for democracy. As the national vanguard of the peoples struggle for democracy and a just society, we must lead the call for government to account for the mismanagement of national resources and to bring to book, all elements implicated in the diamonds case in Chiadzwa, notwithstanding their political affiliation
Obert Mpofu and Zwizwai Murisi should be stopped to Save Our Education!
Mudenge should resign to Save Our Education!
Time has come for cadres imbued with elements of personal sacrifice, dedication to the struggle, cadres who can rise above the culture of self enrichment, greedy, class materialism and all corrupt capitalist tendencies to unite and build a strong movement, a determined independent force that does not seek to appease any political pundits or their parties but that which is committed to executing the peoples struggle for social democratic transformation as a trajectory towards achieving free education for all in line with the Congress Resolution 1 that government should offer free and quality education accessible to all Zimbabweans .
Until such time we attain justice and freedom in the education sector in our life time, we must continue to inspire and win the confidence of the masses of our primary constituency; the students through dedication, sacrifice and hard work. The agenda of redefining and entrenching a new political culture in pursuit of the students revolution is a collective responsibility of all of us. Thus Each One Must Teach One!
Together we canPost published in: News