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Education for All by 2020, then…

By KUDZAI KWANGWARI, l write what l want. kkudzai@gmail.com.

The little time that l interacted directly with marketing one of the key principles which l learnt was one that discourages marketers never to overpromise lest you lose credibility and your constituency or better still, your market will lose confidence in you and your efforts.

The principle promise only what you can deliver but deliver more than what you can promise seemed sacred then and remains so now in any field be it services marketing or goods marketing, but even in politics.

Unfortunately this is what the government of ZANU PF is failing to abide with and observe since they came into power in 1980, power which they have kept hold of since then through hook or crook. The government made a lot of promises seemingly motivated by the desire to transform Zimbabwe to become a stable, and growing economy. This however has remained a pipe dream with corruption and abuse of public resources becoming the order of the day.

So, because access to education was considered as key to development, a non-discriminatory and compulsory policy was adopted in the early 1980s as a way of promoting development and social inclusiveness. Though this was focusing on only primary and secondary education, the government was lauded and both the local and international community applauded the move.

As a practical response to this, more schools were constructed and our education became an envy of not only the region but also the international community. “The investment in human capital and provision of education has been recognized as central to quality life” Mubika Augustine Kudakwashe & Bukaliya Richard (2011)

According to Wikipedia the ZANU party democratized education by promising free and compulsory primary and secondary education to all children in Zimbabwe. The party’s claims were backed by the national constitution, which recognizes education as a basic human right. As such all primary school tuition fees were abolished after independence.

This policy could not however continue to hold and sustain as the economy started to suffer mismanagement and bad policy framework especially towards the end of 1997 onwards. Getting into year 2000 onwards, the education for all policy was just but a buzz word with nothing on the ground to prove it as many children started struggling to even get grade 1 and form one places at available schools.

Corruption became a normal practice rather than an exception in schools as parents tried to access education for their children and it got even to secondary and tertiary education. This remains to this day with schools now charging exorbitant fees including some public schools.

The recent story about Njube High School students’ demonstration is indicative of how the education for all policy has not achieved its intended objectives especially as we reach 2020.

Though there is always an attempt by the government to attribute such public outcries and demonstrations to the opposition and “our detractors” without self-introspection, it is curious and telling in terms of how we have failed as a country on this deliverable. The Njube High School incident is just but an example of how the education delivery system has failed to deliver with both access and quality diminishing in a telling manner.

The fact that our teachers have been driven to the periphery of our social and economic sphere due to the paltry salaries which they are now receiving demonstrate our lack of seriousness when it comes to the sector.

It is embarrassing for Zimbabwe to still have some of our children learning under trees and makeshift classrooms 40 years after gaining political independence. The policy Education for All by 2020 seems to have been another tokenism posturing which was more of a political promise to hoodwink citizens into voting for ZANU PF.

What is even more disturbing is the fact that those that are supposed to play a critical role on this issue occupying public office as ministers and senior government officials have of late been even avoiding the system which they oversee and manage opting for foreign education where they send their children using taxpayer money.

This is more than just passing a vote of no confidence in the system which they encourage us to embrace. One would imagine if there was a policy which prohibits senior government officials from sending their children to either foreign or local private schools including removing such perks perhaps they would commit a bit more.

So by and large, the Education for All by 2020 (EFA) is a dream which has remain but just a dream regardless of the fact that our own constitution makes it a fundamental right to all children. It is therefore a violation of that right by government to fail to provide decent and quality education to all our children.

It is not proper to still struggle to just get a place at a local school for Zimbabweans and all who live in it let alone paying exorbitant school fees for basic and primary education as is the case now.

With the advent of this new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa, our expectation is that there be a significant improvement on this and other areas because access to education require support services and structures.

It is a crosscutting service which is highly sensitive to other sectors such as health, shelter, food, clean water and sanitation etc. As we approach 2023 it is up to us Zimbabweans therefore to exercise political literacy by engaging in issue based politics as opposed to personality and party based politics and vote for those that take this sector more seriously.

And to President Mnangagwa, more and more of us are now conscious of these matters barring any political chicanery, we want to judge you based on issues particularly access to education.

In conclusion, our dream for EFA will remain but a dream unless and until our government and all key stakeholders concert their efforts and adopt a serious approach accompanied by resources allocation to the sector. The seemingly increasing commercialization of education cannot be left unattended, lest it will become a privilege of the elite.

The case of Riverton School in Masvingo, Bikita where fees is in access of 100 000 RTGS (5000USD) is worrying. To the government of ZANU PF, please promise only what you can deliver but deliver more than what you can promise.

Remember, it’s Our Country Too!!!


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