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Droves sent away at Zimbabwe's "glorified high school"
Students Solidarity Trust
April 22, 2010

The adage it never rains but pours has become a living reality for hundreds of students who are not fully paid up, chased away by University of Zimbabwe (UZ) security guards from examination venues. As Zimbabweans observe 30 years of independence presided over by domineering President Robert Mugabe; the late Professor Walter Kamba the first black Vice Chancellor and Canaan Banana the first black Chancellor of the then lustrous UZ should be turning in their graves as hundreds of mostly "born-frees" are being denied access to examination venues by Professor Levi Nyagura led administration. The current move by UZ administration to bar students who are not fully paid up from writing their end of first semester examinations between 19 April 2010 and 30 April 2010 is an assault on the right to education and reverses the gains made not only under so called self rule but also under the inclusive government towards education transition and recovery.

The University of Zimbabwe is a former shadow of itself. It has been run down, and now resembles a "glorified high school", under the watchful eye of President Robert Mugabe who is the Chancellor, ageing Minister of Higher Education Stan Mudenge and Vice Chancellor Professor Levy Nyagura. Yet still sons and daughters of these "patriotic" leaders pursue their studies in foreign lands, with access to education, with their welfare well catered for through Zimbabwe's tax payers' money. State support from tax payers' money of students at local state universities through the loan or payout system was scrapped off in February 2006 and consequently paying of tuition and accommodation fees by mostly poor students was introduced. The loan system was adequate to cover tuition fees and accommodation fees for those students in campus halls of residence and could also cover other ancillary costs associated with being a student.

The cadetship scheme that was catapulted as a face saver following protests by students has been unpopular with most students due to its terms. It is stipulated in the cadetship scheme application form that students under scheme will be bonded in the lowly paying public service for a minimum period equal to the time a student was on the scheme before being awarded his certificate.

The maximum period is not stipulated. It is this and other such clauses in the application form that make students shy away from the scheme. On a recent visit by the Students Solidarity Trust students who failed to produce registration forms, tuition fees receipts and fees payment clearance forms were seen being shoved away from examination venues by button stick wielding university security guards clad in green uniforms. Other students were seen jostling to clear their arrears at the Bursar's offices.

The examination situation as it obtains at UZ is in violation of the right to education as enunciated in international covenants and conventions. According to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) Article 26:

"Everyone has the right to education . . . education shall be equally accessible on the basis of merit"

Universally, state universities are state utilities, which are meant to provide a service to all deserving students irrespective of their socio-economic status. By this declaration, governments accepted their obligation to ensure that all human beings rich or poor, strong or weak, male and female of all races and religions are to be treated equally. Education has been regarded in all societies and throughout history as a means for the individual and society to grow.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) sets out a detailed formulation of the right to education. Article 13 of the same convention stipulates that everyone has a right to education and that education should contribute to the full development of the human personality.

The Students Solidarity Trust lambasts UZ administration for its failure to allow the students who have not paid their fees to seat for their examinations.

Visit the Students Solidarity Trust fact sheet

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