HARARE, Zimbabwe — A landlocked country covering an area of 150,871 square miles, Zimbabwe has improved its education system tremendously over the past few decades. Following the country’s claims to independence, schools have expanded, a significant number of teachers have been trained, and resources have significantly progressed. While a major gap exists between schools in the cities and in rural areas, education in Zimbabwe has undeniably benefited its population of 13 million.
As a direct result of education reform, Zimbabwe leads the African continent in terms of literacy rates, at 91 percent, according to a recent survey. In most parts of the nation, more women than men have received a formal education. As it currently stands, there is a primary school in every village across the nation. The country currently boasts that, in 2013, the primary school completion rate increased from 89.2 percent to 90.2 percent, suggesting that the nation was on an upward climb in terms of education.
Much of this success has stemmed from the Zimbabwean Parliament Education Act 25:04. The Act affirms the right of every child to an education and establishes a goal for attaining universal and free education for all students. Though Zimbabwe has felt the direct impacts of challenges exacerbated by socioeconomic instability, they maintain an Education Sector Plan, with a goal to be a global leader in inclusive and quality education by 2020. In fact, in December of 2016, Zimbabwe received a $20.6 million grant to improve students’ access to education.
Education in Zimbabwe maintains a fascinating structure. Beginning at age six, students begin primary education in the first grade. At the end of their seventh year of schooling, students take a rigorous exam testing their capacity to understand English, mathematics, an indigenous language and a combination of social and natural sciences. Subsequently, they enroll in secondary school, where they take courses such as English, history, math, science and a vocational subject.
Following secondary education, students have the option to continue at one of seven different universities throughout the nation. Founded in 1955, the University of Zimbabwe, the best university in the nation, is one such university. Since its foundation, the university — located in the city of Harare — has conferred Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degrees. Another is the Women’s University in Africa, which was established in 2002 and seeks to address gender disparity and foster equal education throughout the nation.
While obstacles remain for education in Zimbabwe, the nation has certainly prioritized and developed its educational system on the whole. Through continued support and funding for its programs, the country will hopefully succeed in its goals to provide all Zimbabwean children with the opportunity to learn in a school setting.
– Emily Chazen