World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Education in Zimbabwe

Article Id: WHEBN0015295739
Reproduction Date:

Title: Education in Zimbabwe  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Education in Africa, Education, List of education articles by country, Sociology of education, Philosophy of education
Collection: Education in Zimbabwe
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Education in Zimbabwe

Education in the Republic of Zimbabwe
Governing Agencies (Zimbabwe)
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development (Zimbabwe)]]

Lazarus Dokora

Olivia Muchena
National education budget (2013)
Budget $750 million (public, all levels)[1]
General details
Primary languages Shona, Ndebele, English
System type State, private
17 October 1979
4 May 1980

Education in Zimbabwe is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for primary and secondary education and the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development for higher and tertiary education. Both are regulated by the Cabinet of Zimbabwe.[2] The education system in Zimbabwe encompasses 13 years of primary and secondary school running from January to December. The school year is a total of 40 weeks with three terms and a month break in-between each term.[3]

In 1980, education was declared a basic human right by Robert Mugabe, the leader of the ZANU party that changed the constitution to recognize primary and secondary public education as free and compulsory. [4] One of Zimbabwe's Millennium Development Goals was to achieve universal education for all students; however, the goal was not achieved as of 2015. The country is currently workings towards the Sustainable Development Goal of providing universal and free education to all students by 2030.


  • History 1
    • Colonial government to 1980 1.1
    • National education reform in 1980 1.2
    • 1980s and 1990s 1.3
    • 2000s to present 1.4
  • Governance 2
  • Education stages 3
    • Early education 3.1
    • Primary education 3.2
    • Secondary education 3.3
    • Tertiary education 3.4
  • Recent factors affecting education in Zimbabwe 4
    • Funding 4.1
    • Access to education 4.2
    • Gender disparities 4.3
    • Teachers 4.4
    • Textbooks 4.5
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Colonial government to 1980

British settlers arrived in the 1890s to southern Rhodesia, the area now known as Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. They created Christian missionary schools to serve local communities. The colonial government of Rhodesia provided an education for the indigenous population that was focused on agricultural production and industrial development including carpentry, building and agriculture. Researchers claim that in order to control the locals, the colonial government limited education and censored knowledge in schools.[5] Limits in access to education kept Africans in positions of labor and subordinate to white colonists in order to advance European political and economic gains.[2] The Eurocentric education system was a structural institution that reinforced the superiority of white settlers even though they were the minority. For example, missionary schools perpetuated social and economic repression of the indigenous population by reducing their chances of earning well-paying jobs or positions of power through offering limited education and foundational skills for labor exploitation and external servitude.[6]

Europeans were disproportionately offered more educational resources than the majority black population because the colonial government controlled access to quality schools based on race and socioeconomic status.[7] Segregation of funding and quality of education were most extreme in the 1970s because during that decade Europeans represented one percent of Zimbabwe's population, but were allocated 99% of government spending on education.[8]

In 1979, a new Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government called for education reforms by creating a three-tier school system.[9] The Education Act of 1979 regulated access to each type of school through a zoning system based on residence.[7] Before the act, Zimbabwe's education system was divided between African and European schools. After the shift in policy, the education system split into government schools, community schools and private schools and split government schools into Group A, B and C. White students historically attended Group A schools that offered highly trained teachers and resources.[7] These schools were located in white suburbs that denied housing opportunities for blacks, a contribution factor in education disadvantages in segregated schools. Group B, requiring a low-fee payment in suburban areas, and C schools, which do not require a fee beyond educational materials, were only available for African students. These schools had less resources, funding and qualified faculty compared to Group A schools.[7]

National education reform in 1980

In 1980, ZANU party, Zimbabwe African National Union took power over the white, colonial government through the national election. ZANU democratized education by promising free and compulsory primary and secondary education to all children in Zimbabwe becuase the government recognized education as a basic human right.[10] All primary school tuition fees were abolished after independency.[10] Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka was elected the Minister of Education to support Zimbabwe through education reform and keep students in school. The government allocated 17.3 percent of the the total national budget towards education which was considered an "education miracle." [10] The climate of the education system changed by focusing on fostering self-sufficient students that are productive, motivated and dedicated citizens.[11] Zimbabwe's education system reformed to no longer disadvantage blacks by providing primary and secondary education to all children.

1980s and 1990s

Through the nation's independence and focus on equal and free education for all, the demand and supply of education increased. Within one year, the education system nearly doubled the number of students it served from 885,801 students to 1,310,315 student in primary and secondary education.[10] In 1979, there were 2401 primary schools in the country; however, in 1991 the number of primary schools nearly doubled to 4549.[12]

Teachers were in high demand following Zimbabwe's independency. In the mid 1980s, thousands of refugee children from Mozambique migrated to Zimbabwe, causing an increase in the number of children attending public schools and need for teachers.[13] The Minister of Education brought in teachers from Australia, Britain and Canada for a short period of time to fill the teaching gaps.[13] Schools expanded their human resources to serve as many children as possible with limited infrastructure by practicing "hot-seating" which means the school offers class in the morning to half of the school and in the afternoon to the other half, also known as double session schooling.[13] "Hot-seating" was still not enough to meet the demands of the school system; therefore, the Ministry of Education expanded teacher education colleges rapidly by providing "on-the-spot" teacher training.[13] In 1986, 8,000 additional teachers were trained to meet the demands of the school system.[10]

Communities also rapidly built more infrastructure for education. For example, from 1979 to 1984, the number of primary schools in operation increased by 73.3 percent and the number of secondary schools increased by 537.8 percent.[10] Following independence, the practice of "hot-seating," exponential increased the number of students attending school and the need for more infrastructure and teachers, alarming the government of Zimbabwe because of the overwhelming educational demands. Despite the challenges following the magnitude of students to educate, Zimbabwe claimed to achieve universal primary education by the end of the 1980s.[13] By the 1990s, primary schooling was nearly universal and over half the population had completed a secondary education.[14]

2000s to present

The country's education system was once the most developed on the continent, although it continues to suffer from a contemporary decline in public funding linked to hyperinflation and economic mismanagement.[15] Economic downturn in the first decade of the 21st century was marked by a period of hyperinflation.[16] By the end of 2008, most schools and hospitals were shut down due to thousands of teachers leaving the profession, the national government cutting health and educations budgets in half and an outbreak of cholera in 2008 leading to a national epidemic.[17] UNICEF asserts that 94 percent of rural schools, serving the majority of the population were closed in 2009 and 66 of 70 schools abandoned. During this period of time, the attendance rates plummeted from over 80 percent to 20 percent.[18] The economy regained momentum after 2009 once an inclusionary government was formed called the Government of National Unity to resolve national challenges.[19]

Zimbabwe's focus on expanding education opportunities for the past 25 years has lead to national accomplishments including having the highest literacy rate in Africa at 91 percent among people from ages 15 to 24.[20] As of 2014, 3,120,000 pupils were enrolled in primary and secondary education, 76 percent of these students were enrolled in primary education.[20] Only 10 percent of pupils ages 15 to 24 have not completed primary education as of 2014.[20]


After nearly a century of British colonial rule, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front took over Zimbabwe and formed an independent country in 1980. The newly formed government created free and compulsory primary and secondary education and valued education as a fundamental right.[21] This fundamental right was clearly articulated in the Education Act of 1987 and all methods of discrimination from the Education Act of 1979 were abolished.

The Education Act of 1996 and again in 2006 established School Development Committees. These committees are overseen and established by School Parents Assembly for parents and guardians of school-going children to participate in the development of Zimbabwe's schools.[21] According to the government's Statutory Instrument 87 of 1992, the purpose of School Development Committees is to:

  • provide and assist in the operation and development of to public schools
  • advance the moral, cultural, physical and intellectual welfare of pupils at the school
  • promote the welfare of the school for the benefit of its present and future pupils and their parents and its teachers[21]

School Development Committees have many functions and powers to control the quality of the school system including the recruitment and firing of teachers, preserve facilities and to borrow money and apply for grants.[21] These committees also decentralized the education system by enabling parents to elect five other parents to lead a school. The decentralization of the schools combats the highly centralized, top-down of the government in hopes to assist the operation and development of education.[12]

In 2013, the government created the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture to foster social cohesion, economic empowerment and educational development in primary and secondary schools.[22] The minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture was Andrew Langa until President Mugabe fired Langa in September 2015. Langa was replaced by Makhosini Hlongwan and the ministry has changed to become the Ministry of Sports and Recreation.[23]

Currently, government primary and secondary schools are ran by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education while non-government schools are ran by local authorities including churches and organizations.[24] The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education is Lazarus Dokora. The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development oversees public and private universities in Zimbabwe. The minster is Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development is Jonathan Moyo.[24]

Education stages

A list of early, primary, secondary and tertiary schools and providers can be found at Zimbabwe's online school directory. [1]

Early education

Preschools are directed by the Early Childhood Education and Care program and offered for children from the ages of three to five.[25] Early education is available in mostly urban areas and can be owned by the government, organizations or individuals.[25]

Access to early education has expanded in the past decades.

Primary education

Zimbabwe's education system mandates seven years of primary school, encompassing Grades 1 to 7.[26] Urban primary schools teach in english, while in rural primary schools students learn in the native language, typically in Shona or Ndebele, then transition to English by Grade 3.[3] Student to teacher ratios are typically from 30 to 40 students per teacher and as of 2012 was 36 students per teacher.[2][27] The curriculum in primary schools encompasses Shona, English, Ndebele, Art, Content and Maths.[25]

At the end of Grade 7, students take a national examination in Mathematics, English, Shona or Ndebele and a General Paper covering Social Sciences, Environmental Science and Religious Education.[28][2] Zimbabwe's government system requires education for all, but this examination can determine the type of secondary education students can attend based on the school's criteria.[2] Private or missionary schools typically have performance requirements, but many rural public schools allow "mass admission" regardless of performance on the examination.[2]

Secondary education

Secondary education is not funded by the government and students can attend private boarding school, government boarding school or day school all with an enrollment fee.[2] Secondary Education is made of of two cycles, O-Level, ordinary level, for four years and A-Level, advanced level, for two years.[2] Students take classes in Mathematics, English, Science, Shona or Ndebele, Geography, and History. The Ordinary Level Certificate Examination is taken after four years in Grade 11 and expects students to pass a minimum of five subjects including Science, English, Mathematics, History and a Practical Subject like woodwork or agriculture.[28] This examination is ranked on a letter scale and can determine student achievement, selection for A-Level schools and employment.[2]

Students have the option to enroll in A-Level secondary education or can attend teacher’s training, technical, agricultural , polytechnic, and nursing training colleges. If a student chooses to enroll in A-Level education, they must take the Advanced Level Certificate Examination after six years of secondary education administered by Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council.[2]

Tertiary education

List of Universities in Zimbabwe

The tertiary sector of education is operated by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education which includes universities, technical, polytechnic and teacher training colleges and various vocational training centers.[2]

Recent factors affecting education in Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe's independence prompted an education reform in 1980 to provide free and universal education to all children through the Zimbabwe Education Act. However, tuition fees and education costs have accumulated over time.[29] Many families pay for tuition even if it is a small fee at public government schools.[25] Parents that do not pay for tuition due to education subsidies are still required to pay additional fees including building fees, uniforms and stationary for their children.[6] Education is not completely free in Zimbabwe due to historical government expenditures on providing infrastructure for education and recent years of global economic crisis.[6]

Many students are not enrolled in early education because of the added financial burden onto parents.

Access to education

The current education system faces many challenges, including double session schooling, shared overcrowded classrooms enable more pupils to attend school, but also students are given less attention and time to learn.[13] With the exponential growth of students in Zimbabwe, the demand for education has resorted to "hot seating," also known as double school sessions. "Hot seating" means that half of students attend school in the morning and the second half attends school in the afternoon.[13]

Gender disparities

Gender differences are insignificant in primary education, but Zimbabwe faces clear disparities between males and females in secondary education.[16] As of 2010, 48.8 percent of females achieved secondary education or higher while 62 percent of males achieved secondary education or higher. Females are increasingly more likely to drop out than their male peers due to early marriages, cost of continuing education and gender-based violence in secondary schools.[16]


Thousands of Zimbabwean teachers have gone on

  • Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education
  • Education Statistics and Quality of Education in Zimbabwe, Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ)

External links

  1. ^ Is Zimbabwe's education sector on the road to recovery?
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kanyongo, Gibbs (2005). "Zimbabwe’s public education system reforms: Successes and challenges".International Education Journal. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ SACMEQ. Education in Zimbabwe. SACMEQ 2010>( . Retrieved 13 September 2011
  5. ^ Atkinson, N.D. (1972). Teaching Rhodesians: A History of Educational Policy in Rhodesia. London: Longman.
  6. ^ a b c Mapako, Rugare; Mapako (February 2013). "The Concept of Free Primary School Education in Zimbabwe: Myth or Reality" (PDF). Education Research International. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Edward Shizha and Michael T. Kariwo (2011). Education and Development in Zimbabwe. Boston: SENSE PUBLISHERS. pp. 20–30. ISBN 978-94-6091-606-9.
  8. ^ Zindi, Fred (1996). "Towards the Elimination of Disparities in Educational Provision: A Look Into Zimbabwe and South Africa" (PDF). Journal of Social Development in Africa. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d e f MacKenzie, C.G. (1988). "Zimbabwe's Education Miracle and the Problems It Created" (PDF).International Review of Education. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  11. ^ Matereke, Kudzai (2012). "‘Whipping into Line’: The dual crisis of education and citizenship in postcolonial Zimbabwe". Education Philosophy and Theory.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Goronga, Pedzisai (2014). "TEACHERS’ AND STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF DOUBLE SESSION SCHOOLING ON ORDINARY LEVEL STUDENTS’ PERFORMANCE IN GEOGRAPHY". The International Asian Research Journal. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  14. ^ Brooks World Poverty Institute. Moving forward in Zimbabwe: Reducing poverty and promoting growth, Ch. 6: Education. Brooks World Poverty Institute 2009, p.73>( . Retrieved 13 September 2011
  15. ^ ZIMBABWE: Rural education falls victim to economic decline
  17. ^
  18. ^ UNICEF. Zimbabwe education crisis worsens. UNICEF 2009>(
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b c
  21. ^ a b c d
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b Chikoko, Vitallis. "The Role Of Parent Governors In School Governance In Zimbabwe: Perceptions Of School Heads, Teachers And Parent Governors." International Review Of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift Für Erziehungswissenschaft 54.2 (2008): 243-263. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.
  25. ^ a b c d
  26. ^ "Education in Zimbabwe | UsapGlobal". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b
  29. ^ "For Zimbabweans, Universal Education May be an Unattainable Goal | Inter Press Service". Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  30. ^ Stanley Kwenda. Zimbabwe’s School System Crumbles. IPS 2008>( . Retrieved 13 September 2011
  31. ^ a b c d e Moore, David; Kriger, Norma; Raftopoulos, Brian (2013).'Progress' in Zimbabwe?: The Past and Present of a Concept and a Country. Routledge. pp. 87–91. ISBN 1317983092.
  32. ^ Chagonda, Tapiwa. "Teachers’ and bank workers’ responses to Zimbabwe's crisis: uneven effects, different strategies" Centre for Sociological Research at University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  33. ^ "Is Zimbabwe's education sector on the road to recovery?".IRINnews (in en-GB). Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  34. ^ "Zimbabwe education crisis worsens". UNICEF. September 2009. Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  35. ^ a b Chagonda, Tapiwa. "Teachers’ and bank workers’ responses to Zimbabwe's crisis: uneven effects, different strategies" Centre for Sociological Research at University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  36. ^ a b


See also

In 2009, the Educational Transitional Fund (ETF) was launched to improve the quality of education that dropped in recent years. This became a platform to partner with UNICEF and for donors to financially support the education sector of Zimbabwe. Accumulation and distribution of textbooks has been the focus of ETF in recent years. The National Education Advisory Board claimed that 20 percent of students did not have textbooks for core subjects and the pupil to textbook ration was 10:1 as of 2008.[36] Thousands of books have been donated in the past few years along with additional learning materials. UNICEF currently reports that the pupil to textbook ratio is now 1:1.[36]


In 2009, the national economy stabilized because of the actions taken by the newly established Government of National Unity (GNU). The GNU enacted the dollarization of the national economy which curved the effects of hyperinflation and the informal economy.[35] The GNU also allocated every civil servant, including teachers, the equivalence of $100 US dollars.[31] Teachers were encouraged to reenter the profession and move back to Zimbabwe, but thousands never returned and got better paying positions elsewhere.[14] The dollarization of Zimbabwe's economy also reduced the amount of teacher participating in the informal economy.[35]

Many teachers joined the informal economy, or black sector, during the crisis by participating in cross-boarder trading with Botswana and South Africa because civil servants were not required to have visas at the time.[31] Teachers would use their off time during the school year to hoard goods from other country and resell them in Zimbabwe to make a profit and earn a livable living that their teacher salaries did not satisfy.[31]

Marked by a time period of hyperinflation, teachers were one of the lowest paid professions, receiving the equivalence of $10 US dollars for every three months of teaching to as low as one US dollar every month.[31][33] Thousands of teachers protested, left public education and migrated to other countries in response to the economic crisis.[14] During a year-long strike from 2008 to 2009, teachers demanded higher salaries paid in international currency. This strike led to nearly 94 percent of all rural schools closing and in less than a year school attendance rates fell from 80 percent to 20 percent.[34]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.