ZIMBABWE 'S EDUCATION SYSTEM: THE ENVY OF MANY
Zimbabwe inherited a segregated education system, where there were no equal opportunities for white and black citizens. At independence, the government adopted a deliberate policy of giving priority to education. The biggest allocation in the national budget since 1980 has therefore been to education.
School Expansion and Enrolment
There has been a massive expansion of the education system, as a result of government policies which gave priority to education. While at independence the country only had 192 secondary schools, now the country boasts of 1,600 secondary schools and 4,800 primary schools. School enrolment also increased in tandem with the expansion in school facilities. In 1980, primary school enrolment stood at 647,761 male and 588,233 female students. Today, these figures have almost tripped to 1,255,990 male and 1,237,270 female students. Zimbabwe now boasts of one of the highest literacy rates in the world because of the priority accorded to education in the post-independence era.
From only one University in 1980, Zimbabwe now boasts of 12 Universities, 12 teachers' colleges and over 12 Polytechnics. Strategic partnerships have been forged with other Universities internationally to exchange knowledge and enhance effectiveness in imparting knowledge. The course content of the programmes is fine tuned to suit global trends and demands in the labour market. The teaching of practical subjects has also equipped graduands to be employers in their own right instead of just waiting to join the job market.
The realisation that most of the adult population had been denied the opportunity to get educated under the colonial regime prompted the government to embark on an adult literacy programme at independence. This proved to be the most effective tool in ensuring a literate population. To date, with an adult literacy rate of over 90%, Zimbabwe boasts of the highest literacy rate in Africa and one of the highest in the world.
Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) Programme
BEAM is one of the various social protections that government is providing to vulnerable groups through different ministries. Through BEAM the government has managed to provide social protection to orphans and vulnerable children by assisting with tuition fees, levies and examination fees. Since its inception in 2001, BEAM has managed to reduce the number of children who drop out of school due to failure to pay fees. BEAM is administered by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and is implemented through local authorities. To date, over 4, 000,000 students have benefited from BEAM.