Education is a non-negotiable right

The advancement of any country is solely dependent on the levels of education of its people. In the Zimbabwe we want, education must be a non-negotiable right for every citizen. Education is the greatest form of empowerment.

We expect to create a government that prioritises access to education at all levels of society. Primary schooling should be compulsory and free up to grade seven. Secondary education must be provided to those who excel while it will be important to ensure that from that level no resources are wasted through a one size fits all approach that we have seen in the past.

It will be important to widen choices at secondary level so that we can identify talented students early enough and channel them in the right direction. We will also do our best to destroy the myth that everyone must be a graduate. Zimbabwe needs technicians and entrepreneurs, sports people and arts and culture practioners and it will be important to offer these opportunities at secondary level.

At tertiary level we will emphasise technology and science degrees so that we can create citizens that can fit into our developmental priorities. It is our intention to ensure that no child who excels is denied further education at tertiary level. Government must therefore provide grants and loans to all students who are accepted at our universities.

We will also strengthen research institutions to support our developmental priorities particularly in the agriculture and mining sectors. Zimbabwe can leap frog its neighbours through the application of new innovative technologies that increase production volumes and therefore exports. In the Zimbabwe we want, education policy must seek to maximise our human capital and match that with our economic and developmental objectives. The education dividend must result in an advanced economy compared to other African countries.

The issue of gender equity must also be addressed through an education policy that gives equal access to the girl child to education opportunities starting early at primary level. We believe that this will result in the appropriate gender balance in the long term so that women in society are not unfairly disadvantaged. Women empowerment addresses major social ills in general and this also reduces long term social costs.

Adult education is critical for those who may not have had a chance to progress. In the Zimbabwe we want literacy must mean more than just writing and reading. We must develop a society that uses information to develop itself and will make full use of information technology to achieve this.

Our education system has neglected teaching life skills at an early stage. Life skills are a critical factor for stable and sustainable community development. We will ensure that children are introduced to life skills at primary level and also youth and adults are exposed to leadership development and ethics. Our churches and community organisation will play a central role in the delivery.

Zimbabwe has by accident become a net exporter of skills without a return on investment to the country. In the Zimbabwe we want, we intend to maximise the education dividend regardless of where skills are applied. We believe that in the future Zimbabwe can be the education centre of the region exporting skills while also attracting people to come to Zimbabwe to be educated in our institutions. We need to look at education as an asset that can generate income for the country.

Teachers, lecturers and education providers are a critical input to the education system. In the Zimbabwe we want, teachers and lecturers must not only be respected, but must be adequately rewarded so that they can lead a decent life style and thereby focus on their responsibilities. They must also be continuously trained to get better at what they do with time. Teachers, lecturers and all education providers build future societies and must be appreciated as leaders and role models in our society.

Our future government must get its priorities right when it comes to creating an enabling environment for quality education for all. Access to information technologies and the cost of information must be affordable. Our education curricula must be continuously updated so that they reflect the changing needs of society.

Our rural areas have been neglected, this must change. The majority of our people live in the rural areas and any government that neglects this sector of the population cannot claim to care for its citizens. In the Zimbabwe we want, whether you are in town of in a rural area, you must be able access the same quality of education and opportunities.

Any country that does not maximise on its talent can never develop to its full potential. We must harness the talent and energy of our youth and provide them will all opportunities to excel in all spheres of life. This will benefit the country as a whole.

In the Zimbabwe we want, the educational needs and aspirations of all our citizens must come first and government must ensure that it provides the resources necessary as a matter of priority.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. Elton Mangoma is a Zimbabwean politician and entrepreneur. You may contact Vince directly on [email protected]

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