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Zimbabwe going nowhere with delusional leaders

05 Mar 2024 at 05:01hrs | Views
I KEEP being reminded of my younger days when we used to love joking about a guy who had fallen head over heels with a certain girl.

In the midst of their intimate rendezvous, the guy would become so love-struck that he ended up promising the young lady all manner of things he clearly could not afford.

He would talk of a humongous mansion and the latest luxury car he would buy her. Yet, in all this, he did not even have a bicycle in his name, while he rented a one-roomed and poorly-furnished cottage and struggled to put food on the table.

As the late musician Paul Matavire once sang: "Sendadhakwa, sendanwa kangopisa, love inonditenderedza musoro (love confuses me as if I am drunk)."

It is, therefore, quite troubling when we witness the same delusional thinking characterise our national leaders when one listens to them.

I was left thunderstruck after listening to last week's post-Cabinet Press briefing in Zimbabwe's capital Harare when the Primary and Secondary Education minister Torerai Moyo waxed lyrical about how the government was going to provide all schools with laptops and other ICT devices.

He promised the nation that this programme would shortly commence in specific rural areas and later rolled out to the rest of the country.

I could not help myself but blush.

Not over the prospects of our learning institutions finally being modernised — but because this reminded me of the delusional love-struck young man I mentioned earlier. In fact, I began to think of all the ludicrous promises the President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa administration made over the years.

In the education sector alone, there has never been a shortage of grandiose plans and programmes promised by this government.

In 2022, the ICT ministry, through the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, launched the A computer laboratory for every school programme aimed at establishing computer laboratories that were fully equipped with modern ICT gadgets and internet connectivity at every school in Zimbabwe.

The then ICT minister Jenfan Muswere declared: "The scope of the project also includes the provision of functional websites equipped with a Learning Management System (e-learning) materials, Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony, e-mail services and tele-education/video conferencing facilities."

The main beneficiaries were to be rural schools which historically had been disadvantaged and marginalised.

However, today, the Government of Zimbabwe is rehashing the same promises it made years ago — which have largely remained unfilled.

Why rush to make such delusional promises when this is the same administration that is failing to build basic school infrastructure or even electrify those already existing? Surely, does this make sense?

According to statistics released by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), in 2022 alone, 63% of rural children dropped out of school due to various factors, including financial constraints, adolescent pregnancy and drug abuse.

It becomes even more chilling.

Some 85% of rural school children lack reading skills, and 86% do not have numeracy skills. In the same breath, there is a massive shortage of teachers in rural schools — with Artuz reporting that there is a shortfall of 20 000 educators.

Poor remuneration and deplorable working conditions (particularly in rural areas) were cited as the main causes of this deficit.

Why then is the Mnangagwa administration not focusing on these glaring shortcomings? How can it, when it is busy daydreaming?

When leaders become delusional, they quickly lose sight of real concerns right in front of them.

There is an urgent need to address the economic challenges facing the majority of Zimbabweans — so that, at least, parents afford to send their children to school.

And despite repeated promises by Mnangagwa to avail free education, this has, nevertheless, remained a mere pipedream. Besides, even if they attended school, under what conditions do they learn?

Let us remember that most learning institutions in rural areas are miles away and are not even fit for purpose. It is not surprising at all to find children learning under trees or in dilapidated structure, while seated on the ground or on bricks. At the same time, not having the most basic learning materials such as text and exercise books.

Is there, then, any wonder why 85% and 86% of these rural outposts lack reading and numeracy skills, respectively?

Teachers need to capacitated so that they are motivated and able to deliver on their mandate. They should be paid  decent salaries and accorded acceptable working conditions. Who would want to work where they are forced to live in a ramshackle dwelling without such basics as water or ablution facilities?

Yet, here we have a government talking about providing every pupil with a laptop!

The government has to come back to reality.

We are not going anywhere as a country with delusional leaders.

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Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/

Source - newsday
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