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The incredibly depressing reality of education in Zimbabwe

I am a teacher by profession and taught in a teacher training college in the east of Zimbabwe for 6 years in the early – mid 1990s. During that time I was privileged to visit schools in the furthest flung parts of the country and was always hugely impressed with the quality of education and commitment of the teachers, even in the remotest places.

So, my trip out to visit some of the schools Save the Children has been working with in Nyaminyami was depressing. The disintegration of the education system in Zimbabwe could not be more clearly illustrated. I visited three schools in one day, all of which a year ago were functioning well.

The first primary school I visited had only 4 out of 16 teachers on duty and less than 50 children, from a total enrolment last year of around 600. The nearby secondary had only one teacher and a handful of children.  This was depressing enough, but the next school I went to was deserted, no teachers, no pupils and the school was totally over grown. It was obvious no-one had been there for a long time.

At the third school we found one teacher and 5 pupils in the secondary section but the primary school was deserted.

When I asked the teachers still coming to work why they were doing so, they told me that they are “the locally based players”! In other words, they come from this community and have a sense of commitment to the children. The other teachers come from further afield and I was told that they can not afford to pay the bus fare to get back to work.

I asked one of the teachers how much he was earning and he said “I don’t know how much I am earning, I can’t remember when I last went to get my salary. It is so little I can’t afford the journey to Kariba. It isn’t worth the hassle.”

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