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Tertiary and higher education fees
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU)
January 23, 2007

The recently announced higher and tertiary fees structure, as publicized in the Sunday mail of 14 January is misleading. Infact, it is an attempt to create an impression that government is keen on making education not only affordable to everybody, but, also to sustain fallacy that it seeks to maintain high standards, hence the reference to Zimbabwe’s education role and status in the SADC.

It is however clear that the increase of fees by 2000 percent is out of reach of many guardians. The majority of students come from impoverished rural areas, their parent’s income, if any, does not automatically increase with the turn of the year since such parents are not in formal employment. They are neither formally employed as Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has destroyed both sectors. Given that the same guardians have to pay school fees and levies (primary and Secondary), nearly amounting to the same value, the fees becomes wildly out of reach of many potential graduates and guardians. It is equally astounding that government did not gazette food and accommodation fees, leaving it to the discretion of individual institutions yet these fees are the most expensive. They are variable pegged at over Z$500 000. Education has not only been out rightly commercialized and made a luxury, but the system has become bluntly discriminatory against the poor .where does government expect the students to live and what will they be eating during the course of their studies.

Food, Accommodation, transport and books (exercises and texts) constitute the most expensive aspects of education. Factor in the currently skyrocketing rate of inflation and the subsequent rapid increase of basics puts everything absolutely out of reach of many students. By gazetting tuition only, government is abdicating its duties of protecting the poor and vulnerable of our society and making education realizable by all. Incidentally it is such groups who need education most to change their fortunes.

The ever worsening extent of depravity has made colleges and universities breeding grounds for prostitution and all sorts of corruption as students desperately struggle to eke out a living, while continuing with their studies. They dangerously expose themselves to HIV/AIDS, rape and all forms of violence. In the extreme most students have dropped out at a rate more than ZINASU’s modesty 31,5%. The government’s provincial mouth pierce, Masvingo star, January 19-25, reports that Masvingo Polytechnical College is deserted. As Education becomes too expensive against prospects of a bleak future ,students take great risk, illegally skip the border into South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique, to do menial jobs. Isn’t this a disaster?

Can I hear any Zanu PF and or Government official brag about Zimbabwe’s educational role and status in the SADC. What a national loss and shame. We have an educational crisis which government is refusing to acknowledge. It is actually a national disaster.

Go to any University or College today, students will tell you they rent about 4 to 6 a single room, walk about 30km to and from college everyday, on empty bellies. They also have to be on the scrounge like everybody else for basics which are in short supply. This is no fiction. Come to Masvingo and confirm this with students who stay at Runyararo West, Rhodene and in the farms close to Nemamwa Growth point crammed in ramshackle domains, reminiscent of shanty towns, without running water, ablutions or lighting. Honestly, how do we study and can our education system proudly produce a polished global academic under these circumstance. Clearly, these conditions are not conJusive for any Kind or level of study .They actually speak volumes about how much our education system and standards have plummet.

Zimbabweans should not be fooled. Students and parents should brace themselves for a fight to redeem their birthright and dignity which this regime has continuously failed to guarantee but nagete. More importantly, they should confront the regime over issues of governence, constitutionalism, democracy and human rights, whose failure, compounded by political ineptitude and greedy within Zanu PF and government has cryptically put the country in a political economic and social conundrum .Given this, the 2010 Zanu Pf presidential project which threatens to worsen the already unbearable suffering of the downtrodden Zimbabweans should be confronted head on by all and sundry. The people have no option, but to come out of this Zanu PF Cal-de-Sac Victorious.

Gideon Hlamalani Chitanga
ZINASU Vice President

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