Govt wrangling condemns students

At independence in 1980, the government realized that with a highly educated and literate population a country is able to take great leaps forward.

The policy to maintain infrastructure and provide teachers to go with the newly built schools continued in the nascent Zimbabwe. Teacher-training and technical colleges became critical centers. The country formed alliances with universities and colleges around the world, enhancing local capacity and assisting in technology transfer. Expectations were high that with such dedication of personnel and resources, Zimbabwe would in no time achieve its potential.

But within a decade or so, universities and colleges became centres of persecution and prosecution instead of ideas and debate. This muzzling of the intelligentsia coincided with the emergence of a dictatorship. Dissenting voices received short shrift as a paranoid leadership sought to evade public scrutiny.

The economic structural adjustment programme in the 90s did not help. In fact, it started to reverse the gains that had been made by introducing mass privatization of colleges and the withdrawal of resources from the education sector. Resources were continuously withdrawn from service sectors and channeled to security ministries.

Teachers and other education practitioners left in droves as conditions plummeted and their security was no longer guaranteed. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe noted that eight teachers lost their lives in 2008 as the country descended into related violence.

Hope in the GNU in 2009 was short lived. Today the education sector is gridlocked by haggling between the higher education and finance ministries over loans, grants and cadetships.

It is critically important for government officials to stop wrangling and come up with permanent solutions to revitalize the education system.

Post published in: News

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