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A generation of EDiots

29 Jan 2024 at 07:43hrs | Views
THE politicians keep fiddling while Zimbabwe is burning. The opposition is at sixes and sevens, while Zanu-PF is at sea when the education system is now in comatose and the peril of having a generation of idiots is real in less than a decade from now.

There is the adage — education is the key to success — and I wonder how Zimbabwean children, particularly the generation that has 11 years of President Mnangagwa's rule, will use to unlock the doors of success locally and internationally. The sad reality is, Zimbabwe will become a crime haven as they will break the doors.

Before I sound offensive to sensitive readers, let me seek the assistance of the Merriam Webster dictionary. It defines the word idiot as a foolish or stupid person. It further says: "The English idiot originally meant ignorant person."

There we have it. We are talking of an ignorant generation. A generation that Zimbabwe is deliberately creating because it is not seeking a solution to our public education and its funding.

The Unicef, a United Nations  agency, on Thursday released a statement with sad statistics on the state of education in Zimbabwe during the International Day of Education commemorations.

Unicef country representative Tajudeen Oyewale said: "Only six children out of 10 aged three to five are enrolled in pre-primary education, and an estimated half a million children of primary and lower secondary school age are out-of-school, and this data reminds us to continue to work together under the leadership of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to address the challenges that keep children out of school."   

Half-a-million children are out of school! Okay let me try to dramatise this. It is equal to the whole population of Chitungwiza. Imagine, every single person in the sprawling dormitory town was of school going age and are out of school. Further, imagine that whole lot in 10 years from now. It is too ghastly to contemplate.

It is poignant that Unicef pointed the blame squarely on the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the executive arm of government responsible for education.The teachers also lay the blame  on the government. Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said the country's poor education was a result of the economic crisis.

"We are facing a lot of challenges as we speak, and we don't have adequate schools while the government would like to cater for the highly marginalised particularly through the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) fund, it has not been able to pay Beam for quite some time throughout 2023 and up to now," Taderera said.

It is not my place to say where the Zanu-PF government should put money. It is an executive function. However, a government should care for its people and future development. It, therefore, goes without saying that social services like public education, public health, water, electricity and public transport should be prioritised.

The situation is further worsened by the low pass rate at Ordinary level. In the November 2023 Zimsec Ordinary level only three out of 10 students who sat for the exam passed with five Cs or better, including English and Maths. This is beyond frightening. Many Ordinary level students are left with nothing to do as they do not qualify to go to Advanced level or go to a tertiary institution. They are only good enough to join the long queue for menial job seekers or the slave yard — informal sector.

In short, they join the generation of the uneducated, untrained and unemployable. Read the three loaded words again — uneducated, untrained and unemployable. This is beyond sad.

It is in this context that we turn to political developments. The main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on Thursday quit his leadership at Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in a huff. It was long in coming. The party has been fracturing soon after the August 2023 general elections where it performed below expectations.

The party is now effectively split and cannot offer an opposition to Zanu-PF in its present format. Let me concede, the State has not played fairly but some of the challenges in the opposition could have been avoided. It can do better on having a constitution, structures and a collective leadership. It can do better to attract new members and even form a coalition with other fringe opposition parties to form a broad alliance that can unseat Zanu-PF.

It is beyond dispute that Chamisa is a popular figure. However, his leadership qualities are suspect, just as much as his policy direction is like a wind vane. Yes, a wind vane. It points in any direction from where the wind is blowing from.

Zimbabwe can no longer bear the misrule of Zanu-PF and its fixation with power consolidation in the face of starving people, urban residents suffering from medieval disease like cholera, an education system that is dysfunctional for most children.

Things need to change. Political leaders must show us what they need to do with the power they so much covet. They cannot continue to hold on to power in their political parties and national offices through the vote of a generation of idiots they helped create.

The rot in public education must be stopped. It is a national security question. Can one imagine what an uneducated, untrained and unemployable generation do to have a morsel of food on their plates? They will steal, rob and form gangsters or vigilantes. Zimbabwe will be worse than the Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah if this trend is left unchecked.

Politicians should stop their silly power games. They must save posterity. We cannot have a lost generation. They should come together as a matter of urgency to find a durable solution to the problems of public education. It is important that Zimbabwe should try to salvage something from the pool of the generation of idiots that politicians created and continue to create by their bad policies and lack of priority.

Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Source - Newsday
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