By Alistar Pfunye (@alistarpfunye18)
The recent wave by public institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe to privatise education has sadly ensured that entrance to tertiary education becomes a preserve of the elites.
The majority of students in Zimbabwe are faced with debilitating financial constraints as most have civil servant and informal sector backed economic backgrounds.
Fees Must Fall in Zimbabwe too
Institutions like Zimbabwe School of Mines are charging US$2 000 tuition fees, Solusi University US$1 500, National University of Science and Technology US$800. At the University of Zimbabwe this semester up to 2 800 students have either deferred or dropped out altogether due to tuition fee barriers. Great Zimbabwe University has 1 370 students who have deferred or dropout as well, including almost 200 final year students who were supposed to be completing their studies this semester. In teachers’ colleges a total of 8 000 students had been affected by the fees plague (the figures can even be higher). In polytechnic colleges some programs like Higher National Diploma and National Diploma courses have been stopped since at times just four students manage to register for those courses.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) condemns this onslaught on the right to education in the country and views this to be a direct result of government neglect.
Most of the infrastructure in the tertiary institutions is in a state of disrepair and dilapidated. Buildings and other structures are either inadequate or unsuitable for the institutions needs or incomplete. Zimbabwe School of Mines, despite charging the highest fees does not even have a decent library. Nationally, the requisite equipment for teaching and learning as well as sport is in short supply and mostly if available is in obsolete state. The number of students per computer is said to be 28.8 for universities, 30.3 for polytechnics and 87.7 for teachers colleges giving an average of 32.5. The poor ICT connectivity in most institutions is adversely affecting teaching and learning operations and in turn the industry.
The existing capacity for students’ accommodation in universities and polytechnics can only cater for 7% of the total enrolment resulting in some students living in sub-human conditions. Furthermore electricity cuts, water shortages and lack of proper sanitation has impacted on the operations of virtually all institutions.
All these problems are as a result of consistent government negligence on the Students of Zimbabwe. They claim they have no money but our chancellor and high government office bearers allowed the squander of $15 billion by direct acts of commission and omission.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union is extremely disgusted by the pathological attitude of our Chancellor, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, in regards with education institutions and systems and the welfare, dignity and livelihoods of Zimbabwean students.
His clear lack of will to pay attention to education and students, or rather incapacity to do so has led to the deterioration of our academic standards as a nation.
In response to this perpetual dereliction of duty by our chancellor and the government of Zimbabwe, ZINASU is signing petitions across all campuses in the country. We will lead a day of national action in which these petitions will be submitted by students to their respective principals and vice-chancellors as representatives of the Chancellor.
[Alistar Pfunye is the President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]