Zim education needs strong skills' backing

ONE area of success that Zimbabweans are proud of — rightly or wrongly — is the education of its citizens.

Before independence, access to education was heavily skewed along racial lines. Correcting this became one of government’s top priorities soon after independence.

The country’s literacy rate soared and, at around 90 percent, is today one of the highest in Africa and comparable with that of a number of developed countries.

Zimbabweans are particularly fond of shoving this particular statistic to anyone who cares to listen.

Despite the rapid rise in its literacy rate, corruption and crime have also soared. One would assume that a country with such an educated population would not top in levels of vice.

Surely, isn’t it strange that a place with such a large number of literates would have a high number of felon minds too?

Yes, this is where our education has failed us — the system has produced a huge literate population which has not been able to transform the country’s fortunes.

Many of them are abroad — not out of their liking of course — busy oiling other people’s economies.

We begin to question the much-touted gains of education because economic development is still way below expectations. The country has so many well-educated and skilled people but its industry has failed.

Perhaps the first error is the misinterpretation of the meaning of “high literacy rate”. Simply put, literacy is the ability to read and write; quite a basic but a necessary ability but — of course — this alone cannot translate into economic prosperity.

“Literate” and “educated”, in my opinion, are words used interchangeably as though they were synonymous yet they are different and are independent of each other.

Zimbabwean education has been reduced to a scamper for papers and certificates. In fact, in the process, lethal egos have cropped up and have undone the whole process of learning.

People with inflated egos, armed with pieces of paper, the so-called educated people believe they have a lot to offer.

Our ever-growing emphasis on academic performance and test scores alone means many learners are not developing life skills like self-control, motivation, focus and resilience which offer far better prospects of long-term success than high grades.

We no longer go to school to learn, but merely to accept a grade, but this is not changing life much. Several employers have complained that recent graduates, particularly those from newer institutions, are not of the same quality as those of yesteryear.

Training and skills development play a vital role in development and the demand for a “vocationally trained and technically” educated human resource rises with every step towards industrialisation and modernisation.

Therefore, government should plan accordingly and explore the existing wide gap between demand and supply of effective manpower. There is need to update and revise the existing curricula, enhance of the status of the teachers, and strengthen the institutions.

The world is progressing everyday, underlining the need for a complete transformation of the education sector to make it more relevant to the demands specific to Zimbabwe as a global player.

Educational institutions must be transformed in line with the demands of the country so that they continue to be relevant. In their current state, the institutions are training people who are suitable for other economies.

The starting point would be policy and then the training of the educators themselves to equip them with knowledge that is relevant to the new demands.

Clive Chiridza is a motivational speaker and social commentator and can be reached at chiridzac@gmail.com.


Comments (2)

Zimbabweans might be educated but they are not good at using it. Our education was very bad because it never taught Zims creative thinking and critical analysis. Our culture of always saying vakuru also added to the (uselessness) of our education.

Joey Hove - 22 March 2018

I believe Zimbabwe's education system simply needs improvements to make it relevant to its products viz, the graduates and industry. If it was bad, none of our graduates would be employed outside Zimbabwe. In addition, it would add value to have a system that incorporates a culture and environment for self-employment where value and merit are taken seriously. Right now, employers want University graduates for positions like data capture clerk, accounts clerk etc which is very demeaning. Again, it would hold us proud to have graduates being employed in the areas which they studied but desperation for "jobs" means this is not the case, which creates new categories of problems moving forward. By graduates I mean academic, technical (including artists, basket weavers, soap stone sculptors , musicians, sportspersons, actors/actresses etc).

Sagitarr - 22 March 2018

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